5th Division Problems Encountered in Vietnamization

(Following is a memorandum sent to the Deputy Senior Advisor of III Corps by the Deputy Senior Advisor of 5th Division).

28 December 1970

Subject: Redeployment of US Forces

1. (U) References:

a. Phoncon from Major Van Gorder, USAAG III Corps & MR3 on 27 Dec 1970.

b. Messages from DSA III Corps & MR3, Subject as above, DTG 270913Z Dec 70.

2. (U) The following report discusses the various problem areas encountered by the 5th Division as a result of redeployment of US Forces.

3. (C) The recent enlarged area of operations (AO) assumed by the 5th Division increased the area of territorial responsibility which has hampered the operational efficiency of the Division. The 5th Division is required to spread their forces over an area formerly occupied by two US Divisions and a US Armored Cavalry Regiment. This problem is compounded due to the fact that an ARVN Division is considerably smaller and has less combat power than an equivalent US Infantry Division.

4. (C) The turnover of large US Base Camp to ARVN taxes the capability of the ARVN units to operate them. The size of most of these US bases dictates an inordinate number of ARVN forces to be committed for static security thereby limiting the number of personnel available for field operations. ARVN units are gradually reducing the size of the defensive perimeters of these bases so they can effectively be defended by a minimum number of personnel.

5. (C) The turnover of US communication facilities to the ARVN will not cause them undue problems as long as the required equipment is provided for them. It is causing some inconvenience for the US Advisors however, and will continue to do so until the Advisors become familiar with the ARVN system.

6. (C) Helicopter support is being seriously limited as US units continue their withdrawal. The ARVN units are having to cut down on the number of airmobile operations, thus limiting their ability to constantly maneuver throughout their assigned TAOR. The gradual reduction of US Medevac helicopter support is becoming a serious problem as more requirements are being placed on limited VNAF Medevac resources. Due to an abundance of US air support in the past the ARVN Division became deficient in their planning techniques for the effective and efficient utilization of available air assets. The Division is now being forced to more effectively plan for the use of allocated aircraft.

7. (C) Tactical air support is being limited because of the withdrawal of US Forces and higher mission priorities for airstrikes outside of South Vietnam. Although VNAF TAC air support is very good, it is limited for the most part to immediate and secondary targets. There are very few preplanned missions being flown in the 5th Division TAOR at the present time.

8. (C) Withdrawal of US air support is having an adverse effect on the reconnaissance effort needed to seek out the enemy. The majority of aerial photography, red haze, sniffer, and V.R. is flown by US aircraft. The withdrawal of locally deployed C-1 army aircraft will reduce results dramatically. The VNAF cannot assume all the FAC and aerial reconnaissance support being given by the US units at the present time.

9. (C) The initial withdrawal of US support caused a reduction in printed Psyop material because the majority of printing supplies had been provided by the US. At the present time however, Vietnamese channels have become more responsive and are supporting the Psyop effort adequately. Civic action projects are supported almost entirely through US sources and will be very seriously affected by the continued US withdrawal. Psyop helicopter missions have been significantly reduced by the cutback in US support.

10. (C) Engineer requirements for general support and routine maintenance within the Division's area of operation have increased. Reduction in air support assets is forcing a greater dependence on land lines of communication for resupply. Current engineer assets have not been sufficient to meet requirements, especially in maintenance of main and secondary LOC's serving fire support bases and unit command posts.

a. The wider dispersion of engineer elements to encompass a greater area of operations has significantly increasd command and control problems for the ARVN engineer battalion.

b. The reduction in air assets has degraded the engineer reconnaissance capability. It is now less responsive to immediate requirements. A re-evaluation of coordination methods and planning procedures is required to overcome this deficit.

11. (C) The withdrawal of US air support is also placing an increased strain on the 5th Division's already inadequate ground resupply capability. The withdrawal of US units has slowed the supply of repair parts for common type vehicles and weapons. Another problem is the lack of ARVN equipment to support the fuel facilities turned over to them by departing US units e.g. 500 gallon POL tankers and pumping units.

For the Senior Advisor
George G. Layman
LTC, Inf
Deputy Senior Advisor