The Two Main Players of the Pleime Chess Game

When the Pleime Battle is mentioned, from the American side, the names of Lieutenant Colonel Harold Moore, General Kinnard or General Westmoreland usually come up; from the Viet Cong's side, the names of General Chu Huy Man or Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Huu An; from the ARVN's side, the name of General Vinh Loc. And these famous people were viewed as the main players of the battle. But, in reality, the two main players of the Pleime Chess Game were Colonel Ha Vi Tung, Viet Cong B3 Front Chief of Staff and Colonel Nguyen Van Hieu, ARVN II Corps Chief of Staff. In their respective role of chief of staff, both studied the planning, assembled the units and equipment, made projection of troop deployments, maneuvered troops according to plan, made tactical adjustments as military situation on the battlefield required; in sum, accomplished all necessary actions in order to implement the strategic and tactical objectives determined by the high command. From the Viet Cong's side, the aim was to slice the Highlands in two along Highway 19 from Pleiku down to Qui Nhon; from the ARVN's side, the objective was to prevent the enemy from realizing its intention of conquering half of the Highlands.

The Main Player Colonel Hieu

From Da Nang, I Corps, Colonel Hieu followed General Do Cao Tri to Pleiku, II Corps in January 1964, in the role of II Corps Chief of Staff. Within a couple of months later, Colonel Hieu launched units of II Corps into Do Xa, a Viet Cong sanctuary in search of the enemy.

Compared to other main and secondary chess players, Colonel Hieu was much younger - at that time he was 36 years old - and had not yet acquired much combat experience, while Lieutenant Colonel Harold Moore (43 years old), General Kinnard (48 years old), and General Westmoreland (51 years old) were experienced combatants since World War II in European battlefields and since the Korea War; on the Viet Cong's side, General Chu Huy Man (52 years old), Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Huu An (39 years old) and Colonel Ha Vi Tung (40 years old, perhaps) had all participated in numerous battles in the Indochina War, in particular the battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Nevertheless, Colonel Hieu had shown to be an exceptional chess player in the Pleime Chess Game, due to his inherent military skills. Like General Patton he "possessed an unsurpassed encyclopedic knowledge of the history of battles, an exceedingly thorough understanding of the ways and thoughts of the enemy, and a peerless, masterful, intuitive comprehension of the roadways and terrain (ancient and modern) on which the offensive army campaign was to sweep" and was "an accomplished staff officer who was a master of maps and briefings yet thoroughly tactical in the field, multi-lingual, communicative with allies, comprehensive on the larger plan yet good with details, possessing a technological edge" (James Miguez); he, furthermore, had the knack of putting to use all means on hand, be it small or big.

Colonel Hieu's tactical operation areas in II Corps were very expanded, the size of I, III and IV Corps tactical operation areas combined. But due to his passion in clocking a considerable amount of aerial observation flying times over the entire II Corps areas either by helicopter or L-19 observation airplane, he had the geography of the whole area in the palm of his hand, which allowed him to cope with any situation with relative ease.

The Main Player Ha Vi Tung

In a chess game, to win, it is essential to grasp the personality of the opponent. Colonel Hieu studied Colonel Tung's military profile very carefully. He remarked in Why Pleime: "(1) During the Indo-China war, Ha Vi Tung was the commander of the 803rd Regiment which together with the 108th Regiment constituted the main forces of the Viet Minh in the Central Highlands. To their credit were the occupation of Kontum and the defeat of French Task Force #100 on Highway 19".

Through various battles before Pleime Battle, Colonel Hieu concurred with Colonel Mataxis, II Corps Senior Advisor, that Colonel Tung always calculated meticulously the respective strength of both sides meticulously in preparation of any attack, as is the case of Duc Co Battle:

The VC are well known for their meticulous gathering of intelligence before an operation. They carefully gather data not only on enemy strength to include the number of troops, weapons, and fortifications, but also the reinforcing capability of the headquarters controlling the zone in which they are in operation. When laying the groundwork for the attack at Duc Co the VC undoubtedly carefully calculated the number of troops garrisoning Duc Co and also estimated the troops available to the Special Zone and II Corps for a relief force.

Furthermore, Colonel Hieu admired Colonel Tung's skill in knowing to rapidly adjust in terms of utilizing new tactics to counter the opponent's newly introduced tactics, such as in using techniques of antiaircraft fire against helicopter gunships.

At this time the Corps chief of staff (Colonel Hieu) and the Corps senior advisor (Colonel Mataxis) reconnoitered the area to clarify the situation for the Corps commander. They found that the VC troops were in battalion strength, well equipped, and had used conventional infantry tactics of fire-and-movement. In addition, the VC had been well trained in the techniques of antiaircraft fire against helicopter gunships. Those being fired at directly would seek cover, but those in the flanks would continue firing at the chopper.

Colonel Hieu was not a bit surprised when he got the chance to read Colonel Tung's Combat Order for an Ambush by the 32d Regiment, by Colonel Tung's general staff skill in the planning of this ambush attack.

Combat Order for an Ambush by the 32d Regiment
Prepared at Regimental Headquarters/Plei-Luc-Chin
At 1500 hours, 12 Oct. 1965, Pleiku, Plei The (YA 815 008)
Map: scale 1/100000 made in 1962

1. After the initial attack on Pleime the GVN will likely send a relief column. The relief column will probably be composed of one ARVN Battle Group and one Armored Battle Group from the 24th STZ. There will probably be one or two US battalions in reserve. The relief forces could come by air or by road, which ever is the most suitable. They could arrive at the battle area in one or two days. Their battle formation could operate up to one kilometer from the road. They could have the infantry and armor elements interposed with each other; as an example an Armor element leading with the infantry 500m to one kilometer behind. After the ARVN elements are ambushed they will pull back to the O-Gri area to regroup. ARVN forces behind the ambushed element will probably move to the area of Po Post (20-14), O-Gri (22-18) and Klan (26-22).

2. In order to defeat the ARVN forces and those American forces engaged, all general activities must be coordinated throughout the battle area. To widen the liberation zone and develop guerrilla movement, the Field Front Headquarters orders the 32d Regiment (minus 7th Company, 966th Battalion) with two anti-aircraft companies, to destroy the ARVN infantry and armor units moving on Provincial Road 21 (TN. Provincial Route 5) from Phu My (AR750 275) to Pleime (ZA150 065).

a. The sector from O-Gri to Chu Von is the main sector (for the ambush),

b. Units are responsible for attacking any enemy units that are air-landed in their zone. The ARVN air landings will probably be at Po and Pia posts.

c. We will destroy the ARVN forces outside of Phu My (AR750 275) and O-Gri by weapons fire, mines and explosives.

d. We will attack the ARVN forces concentrated at the junction of Phu My and O-Gri.

e. We must be prepared to conduct an attack along with the 33d Regiment.

3. The 33d Regiment has the mission of attacking and encircling Pleime thus causing the enemy to send a relief force which will be destroyed by the 32d Regiment.

4. Based on the missions outlined above the 32d Regiment has the following missions:

a. Set up an ambush to destroy the ARVN units on Road 21 (PR5).

b. The ambush will be conducted using the terrain from Hill 538 (16-14-4) to Hill 601 (20-18-9) (4 kilometers).

c. The 334th and 635th Battalions will be at position 1. The 966th Battalion will be at position 2.

5. The 635th Battalion, with one machinegun platoon from the regimental machinegun company and with two 57mm recoilless rifles and two 90mm Rocket launchers (B.40) from the 966th Battalion will deploy on the west side of Hill 538 and Hill Siu (18-14-9); and has the following mission:

a. Occupy one part of the regimental area and block one part of the road into the regimental area. This section of the regimental road is from Hill 538 to the north side of the "lone tree" hill.

b. The battalion will conduct violent attacks on the enemy, attacking from many points in order to separate the enemy forces.

c. The battalion will occupy Hill 538 and the "lone tree" hill in order to canalize the enemy down the valley and destroy them.

d. The 655th Battalion will organize its firepower to destroy tanks and infantry and to shoot down any enemy aircraft bringing reinforcements.

e. The 1 combat formation will be in reserve (TN exact translation and thus meaning, could not be determined. Could mean one company will be held in reserve).

f. The left portion of the combat line of the 334th Battalion, located on the north side of the "lone tree" hill, remains under the command of the 334th Battalion.

6. The 334th Battalion with one platoon of the regimental machinegun company, one platoon of the regimental 75mm recoilless rifle company, the regimental mortar company and one 90mm rocket launcher (B.40) from the 966th Battalion will deploy on the west side and the south west side of the hill at coordinates 20-16-7 and has the following missions:

a. Occupy one part of the regimental area.

b. Blocking one section of the road in the regimental area, within the area from the south side of Hill Blou to the north side of Hill 601.

c. Use violent attacks to cut off the enemy forces in the rear.

d. Cut off the enemy counterattack elements in order to hold the battlefield under friendly control.

e. Attack at many points to separate enemy formations.

f. Seize Hill Blou, Hill 600, and Hill Ngon-Ho (18-18-1).

g. Destroy and capture all enemy troops within the battle area.

h. The battalion will organize its firepower to destroy enemy tanks, and infantry and to shoot down aircraft bringing enemy reinforcements.

i. The 1 combat formation will be a reserve, (TN Exact translation and thus meaning could not be determined. Could mean one company will be held in reserve).

7. The 966th Battalion (minus the 7th Company) with the 2d Anti-Aircraft Company will deploy at Hill 530 and has the following missions:

a. Occupy position 2.

b. Be prepared to move in any direction to support position 1 as follows:

- (1) Hill Blou, Hill 600 and Hill Ngon-Ho.

- (2) The "lone tree" Hill.

- (3) Ready to attack ARVN forces air-landed in the areas of Po and O-Gri

- (4) Encircle enemy troops from the rear at O-Gri or Hill 600.

- (5) Be prepared to attack O-Gri or Po post.

8. 1st Anti-Aircraft Company will deploy on the west side of the Ia Drang River. Mission is to shoot down enemy aircraft and protect the 334th Battalion during its operations.

9. The Regimental Anti-Aircraft Company will deploy on the South side of Hill Siu. Mission is to shoot down enemy aircraft and protect the 635th Battalion and Regimental Headquarters.

10. The regimental 75mm recoilless rifle company (minus one platoon) is the reserve unit for attacking tanks of the enemy armored regiment. The company must first seize Siu village and then destroy enemy tanks on the north side of Hill 536. After the infantry has assaulted enemy elements on the road, the 75mm recoilless rifle company will withdraw and be in reserve for destroying tanks.

11. The Regimental Engineer Company has the following missions:

a. Cau truc Regimental Headquarters. (Cau Truc is NVA military terminology which could not be translated. It could mean "protect" or "secure").

b. Xoi 2 truc to protect the regiment during its operation (Xoi 2 truc is NVA military terminology which could not be translated).

c. Establish two controlled mine fields at O-Gri and Po Post.

d. Establish two deception areas at Hill 516 and on the east side of Ngon Ho Hill.

12. Regimental Headquarters will be located on the west side of Hill Siu.

13. Time of completion and preparation of operation.

14. Report time.

15. Report by direct means.

Regimental Commander: To Dinh Khan

Field Grade Political Officer: Nguyen Chuc

Chief of Staff

(paper torn off at this point)

In the same veine, a captured Viet Cong document analyzing the Characteristics of the 1st US Air Cavalry Division, after reading it, Colonel Hieu knew he was facing a formidable adversary in Colonel Tung.

Characteristics of the 1st US Air Cavalry Division
Through Their Activities at Pleime and Ia Drang
From 24 October to 19 November 1965

I. Main Activities

a) 1st Phase: cooperate with Vietnamese troops to lift the siege at Pleime (24 to 28 October 1965).

b) 2nd Phase: use small detachments and coordinate with Vietnamese Special forces Ranges to conduct raids into our rear (28 Oct to 11 Nov 1965).

c) 3rd Phase: use larger forces to launch raids deeper into our rear at Chu Pong and Ia Drang (14 to 19 November 1965).

II. Tactical Characteristics

Through their activities at Pleime and Ia Drang, the 1st US Air Cavalry Division has conducted the following kinds of operations:

- Reinforce Vietnamese troops to lift the siege at Pleime.

- Conduct separate activities in a separate area or in coordination with small detachments of Vietnamese SF Rangers.

I - Tactics

a) Helilift followed by foot displacement to objectives.

- In the operation to lift the siege at Pleime, the Americans use a Task Force composed of two Cavalry battalions and one 105 How battery.

- On 24 Oct, one battalion is helilifted to 1km5 SW Phu My then progresses on road together with 20 armored vehicles and one 105How Battery to Plei Ngol Ho (25 Oct), until Plei Xom at 4km North of Pleime (26 Oct), behind the 3rd Armored Task Force. In general, their progression takes place carefully and slowly.

b) Vertical landing by "frog leaps" into our rear by helicopters (28 Oct. to 10 Nov. 1965).

- forces used: from one battalion to one company of US troops or two companies of US troops coordinated with Vietnamese SF Rangers.

- Purposes: conduct raids, reconnaissance or harass our rear; disrupt our supply routes; destroy our aid-stations, CP's, information and telephone stations; capture isolate soldiers, destroy caches; designate targets for airstrikes. Their purpose could be also to harass our rear, to compel us to withdraw our troops, which are encircling Pleime in order to facilitate their own withdrawal from Pleime to Pleiku. While conducting raids into our rear, the enemy also uses forces of company or battalion size to sweep around their bases in the vicinity of Le Phong, Duc Nghiep, Xung Quen (South of Bau Can and Tan Lac).

- Activities: quick raids into our weak positions followed by quick withdrawals. Right after landing, the enemy could attack quickly the objective. When isolate groups of our soldiers are sighted, they use from 2 to 6 helicopters to make a landing and to capture them. They also helilift a platoon or company size force to cultivated spots, hills and establish their position on the edge of forests to set ambushes along trails which they suspect to be our supply routes (PleiBonGa, Pleithe). Sometimes they occupy high grounds as vantage pints to control our axes of movement, for instance the hill 475 and Kuenh Xom. The activities of these detachments could last for a few hours or up to 2 days.

- Remarks on enemy tactics: thanks to their high mobility the enemy could raid with high speed and surprise into our objectives in our rear. In our movements and halts, we must have contingency plans to counter-attack enemy heliborne troops and to protect our rear, our wounded personnel. Isolate groups must be armed. Our observation and reconnaissance systems must be reorganized to keep us abreast of the enemy situation. All units from company size up must set observation posts at halts or in operations.

c) Vertical landing of large bodies of troops to conduct larger-scale raids into our rear (Chu Pong, Ia Drang from 14 to 19 November 1965).

- Forces used: one reinforced Cavalry brigade composed of 4 battalions (the 1/7, 2/7, 1/5, c2/3) and possibly the whole 2/3 battalion, one composite 105-155 How battery, one helicopter squadron (the 9th Hel Squadron belongs to the 1st Air Cav Div.) with strong support by Air Force and B52's bombers.

- Purpose: conduct deep raids into our rear to destroy or neutralize a part of our forces, destroy our infiltration routes, our caches, conduct reconnaissance, detect targets for artillery and strikes. Duration: 6 days from 14 to 19 November.

- Activities: After landing, the 3rd brigade form 3 battalion positions and one artillery position:

* the 1/7 Bn East of Chu Pong 02-90

* the 1/5 Bn West of Ba Bi 06-04

* the 2/7 Bn at 04-98

* the Arty Position West of Quenh Kla 06-00, 08-98, 06-02.

The Brigade CP is at Bau Can which serves also as its rear and base of departure. The 9th Hel Squadron at Pleiku.

- Remarks: Thanks to their high mobility (by helicopters), they could attack with high speed and surprise into our flanks and our rear. They could land in many places and then concentrate to attack an objective or one of our units.

II - Tactics Tips

a) Before landing.

Reconnaissance of landing zones by repeated air reconnaissance or by small Vietnamese SF Rangers teams.

Prestrikes over landing zones. Usually there are no prestrikes when small landing is conducted. For large landing of troops battalion size, sometimes prestrikes are not conducted to achieve surprise. During prestrikes, smoke bombs are also used.

b) Landing zones (in rough terain)

- Small landing: the enemy could land almost everywhere, on small cultivated spots, on tops of hills, on slopes (15 degrees), on clearings with a diameter of 30m, for instance at Kuenh Xom and Hill 475.

- Landing of battalion size forces: the enemy needs large landing zones but could land even in places covered with high elephant grass or in valleys. The width of the LZ is approximately 200m. Most of the time LZ are selected in the vicinity of trails (Plei The, East of Chu Pong, Ba Bi). The enemy does not need to establish their positions near water sources and is supplied by helicopters.

c) Landing of troops.

- Small landing: from 2 to 6 helicopters at one time or separately, one after the other.

- Large landing: from 8 to 10 helicopters (sometimes 20) at one time; each landing lasts for 2-5 minutes. The helicopters land on the ground or hover over the LZ 1 to 2m and the soldiers will jump off.

Small landing is supported by 2-4 armed helicopters. Large landing is covered by fighter and jet aircrafts. The flight formation used by helicopters is one or two columns. In small landing, the helicopters fly straight to the objectives. In large landing they usually hover over other areas before heading for the objective.

Vietnamese SF Rangers or US reconnaissance elements always land first to secure the LZ for the landing of riflemen, fire support elements and CP.

d) After landing.

- Right after landing, the enemy could raid immediately into the objective: capture isolate groups of our soldiers, destroy our information stations, aid stations. For two times, they have raided into the 2nd battalion of the 33rd regiment on 6 Nov and the 9th battalion on 14 Nov.

- They can move into blocking positions on trails or in the vicinity of axes leading toward our rear (Kuenh Xom, Lang Ga, Hill 475).

- Their positions, either in ambushes or in defense are always established near the LZ to facilitate resupply and withdrawal.

- The Vietnamese SF Rangers usually push far in patrols.

e) Air support.

- During the lift of the siege at Pleime, the average of enemy air sorties amounts to 200 per day (maximum: 240 sorties)

- Permanent air cover ensured by 10 to 12 jets and 8 to 10 fixed wings fighter aircraft.

- During the activities at Chu Pong and Ia Drang the average of enemy air sorties is 120 per day (night not included) with a maximum of 162 sorties per day. Maximum of B 52's sorties: 18 per day.

III - Equipment

(See organization charts of Air Cavalry Division and battalions already distributed)

- The Division is equipped with many helicopters and possesses a high degree of mobility: It can conduct raids with speed and surprise and thrust deeply into our rear. The Division has from 450 to 600 aircrafts. The aviation squadron of the Division has 250 aircrafts, among which are 220 helicopters. The Air Cavalry battalions and companies have respectively 88 and 27 helicopters according to their TO and E (The Infantry Battalions of the Division are not equipped with helicopters).

- The Division is equipped with a great amount of modern means for reconnaissance (reconnaissance helicopters) enabling the enemy to detect targets quickly.

- The firepower of the Brigades and of the Division is very strong, reinforced by armed helicopters, artillery and Air Force.

28 December 1965
Chief of Section 2

Chess Pawns Utilized

- Colonel Tung

= In Phase 1 - Pleime

- 32nd Regiment: 334th Battalion, 635th Battalion, 966th Battalion.

- 33rd Regiment: 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Battalion.

- 415th Local Force Battalion.

- 2 Companies of 75 mm Recoiless Guns.

- One Battalion of 14.5 mm Anti-Aircraft Machine Guns.

= In Phase 2 - Chu Prong

- 66th Regiment: 7th Battalion, 8th Battalion, 9th Battalion.

= In Phase 3 - Ia Drang

- 32nd Regiment: 334th Battalion, 635th Battalion.

- Colonel Hieu

= In Phase 1 - Pleime

- Defensive Forces at Pleime camp: 4 Companies of CIDG troops, 1 ARVN Special Forces Rangers and 1 US Special Forces A-Team, reinforced by 2 Companies of 91st Airborne Rangers and US Special Forces Delta Team.

- Relief Column Force: 3rd Armored Squadron, 21st Rangers Battalion, 22nd Rangers Battalion, 1/42nd Infantry Battalion, 2/6 Artillery Battery, 105 Engineer Platoon.

- Supportive Forces: Task Force Ingram (with 2/12th Cavalry Battalion, 1/19th Cavalry Battalion, Battery B of 2/17th Artillery Battalion and element of 8th Engineer), Marine Alpha Task Force.

= In Phase 2 - Chu Prong

- 1st US Air Cavalry Brigade

- 3rd US Air Cavalry Brigade

- 1/7 Calvary Battalion/1st Brigade, 2/7 Cavalry Battalion/1st Brigade, 2/5 Cavalry Battalion/3rd Brigade

- B-52 bombers

= In Phase 3 - Ia Drang

- Airborne 1st Task Force: Airborne 3rd Battalion, Airborne 5th Battalion, Airborne 6th Battalion.

- Airborne 2nd Task Force: Airborne 7th Battalion, Airborne 8th Battalion.

- Supportive Forces: US Battery C of 2/17th Artillery, 2nd US Air Cavalry Brigade.

Chess Game Moves

Chess Game Move 1A-Tung

Colonel Tung's primary objective in his first move is to put a siege on Pleime camp with 33rd Regiment to compel Colonel Hieu to send a relief column to rescue the camp, which then allows him to destroy this relief column with 32nd Regiment; after succeeding in destroying the relief column, 32nd Regiment will join forces with 33rd Regiment to overrun Pleime camp.

The reason Colonel Tung has chosen Pleime and the ambush site as the battlefield is because its location is beyond the reach of the artillery firepower located at Pleiku. Without the support of artillery firepower, tanks become sitting ducks.

Furthermore, Colonel Tung also calculates meticulously that Colonel Hieu will not be able to assemble more than 1,000 troops for his relief column force and will only receive one or two American battalions to reinforce the rescue operation of Pleime camp. Colonel Tung has also tied down Airborne 1st Task Force, which constitutes Colonel Hieu's reserve force, with II Corps Operation Than Phong 6 in Hoai An District, Binh Dinh Province. Colonel Tung is applying the "one main attack and two secondary attacks."

Colonel Tung also make use of a new tactic. Instead of using the static ambush tactic as in the Duc Co Battle in August 1965, this time around he uses the mobile ambush tactic to avoid casualties on ambush troops caused by air and artillery pre-strikes.

Chess Game Move 1B-Hieu

When he notices that the VC attack force on Pleime camp is not a battalion-size but rather a regiment size, and not like previous "hit and run" attacks, the enemy troops this time do not attempt to overrun the camp, Colonel Hieu knows immediately Colonel Tung is using the "attack the camp in order to destroy the rescue force" tactic. And then, when the ARVN Special Forces Rangers recon teams report they do not detect any ambush site along the Provincial Route 5 leading to Pleime camp, Colonel Hieu knows Colonel Tung is applying the mobile ambush tactic instead of the static ambush tactic as in the Duc Co Battle.

When intelligence reports indicate that the unit that encircles the camp is 33rd Regiment and the unit that is to carry out the ambush attack is 32nd Regiment, Colonel Hieu concludes that the attack at Pleime camps is only a ruse and the main objective is the annihilation of the rescue force first, since Colonel Tung uses a weaker regiment - 33rd Regiment - to attack the camp and a stronger regiment - 32nd Regiment - to ambush the rescue column.

Colonel Hieu accepts to play Colonel Tung's game. Firstly, he assembles a rescue task force, then dispatches a team of Special Forces Rangers to reinforce Pleime camp, hinting to Colonel Tung he does not intend to let the enemy overrun the camp and is about to dispatch the rescue column.

However, Colonel Hieu needs a rescue force that is strong enough to defeat the enemy ambush troops, and since the number of soldiers of the rescue task force newly assembled is only about 1,000, he needs time to bring in 1/42 Infantry Battalion from Kontum and one battalion belonging to US 1st Air Cavalry Division to replace 22nd Rangers Battalion to assume the security of Pleiku City, in order for this battalion to participate in the eradication operation of the ambush site of 32nd Regiment. That is the reason Colonel Hieu orders the rescue Task Force to remain in the vicinity of Phu My, pending the arrival of these two battalions before resuming the advance toward Pleime camp.

Furthermore, Colonel Hieu reserves an unexpected big surprise to Colonel Tung: the introduction of the artillery firepower into the battle equation. He requests US 1st Air Cavalry to transport artillery battery by helicopters to Phu My at a location close by the ambush site to give efficient support to tanks to neutralize enemy's anti-tank machine guns.

Chess Game Move 2A-Tung

The outcome is Colonel Tung has to order 32nd Regiment et 33rd Regiment to abandon the attempt to destroy the rescue column and the camp and to retreat to Chu Pong massif.

Chess Game Move 2B-Hieu

Colonel Hieu makes use of the means provided by theUS 1st Air Cavalry Division to organize the exploitation phase of pursuing the retreating enemy troops to the very heart of their hideouts in the Chu Pong massif.

Chess Game Move 3A-Tung

Colonel Tung intends to attack Pleime camp a second time. This time the camp will be overrun immediately by the combined actions of 32nd, 33rd and 66th Regiments with the support of one battalion of 120 mm mortars and one battalion of 14.5 mm anti-aircraft. The D-day is set for November 16.

Chess Game Move 3B-Hieu

Upon obtaining the intelligence news of this precise date, Colonel Hieu feigns to having lost track of the enemy troop units; he asks US 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade to switch the direction of pursuit operations from west to east, meaning away of Chu Pong massif and toward Pleime camp.

A few days later, he then has US 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade to resume pushing west and suddenly land at the footstep of Chu Pong massif to attack the enemy on November 14.

Chess Game Move 4A-Tung

Colonel Tung orders 66th Regiment to counter attack US 1/7 Air Cavalry Battalion.

Chess Game Move 4B-Hieu

Besides the ground force of US rhe1st Air Cavalry Brigade, B-52 bombers take part in the battle.

Chess Game Move 5A-Tung

Colonel Tung orders his remaining units to retreat into the Cambodian territories.

Chess Game Move 5B-Hieu

Colonel Hieu estimates that Colonel Tung has lost approximately 2/3 of his forces and has only two battalions - 334th and 635th - remaining in the jungle areas of Chu Pong massif close to theCambodian border, decides to throw in ARVN Airborne Brigade to attack these two battalions.

The Pleime Chess Game terminates when Colonel Tung's two last pawns are struck out of the chessboard.

Nguyen Van Tin
29 March 2009


- Primary

- Books, Articles

* Pleiku, the Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam, J.D. Coleman, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988.

* We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, Random House, New York, 1992.

* "First Strike at River Drang", Military History, Oct 1984, pp 44-52, Per. Interview with H.W.O Kinnard, 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General, Cochran, Alexander S.

* The Siege of Pleime, Project CHECO Report, 24 February 1966, HQ PACAF, Tactical Evaluation Center.

* Silver Bayonet, Project CHECO Report, 26 February 1966, HQ PACAF, Tactical Evaluation Center.

- Viet Cong