Friday, July 11, 2014




(S) To exercise operational command over forces and personnel assigned or attached in the execution of special operations or in the conduct of unconventional warfare as directed by the Joint General Staff/Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (JGS/RVNAF). 

(TS) Because of increased communist activities in the Republic of Vietnam after the 1954 Geneva Accords, a secret special service was established in 1958 under the control of the President Republic of Vietnam. The mission of this secret agency was to obtain intelligence on communist activities north of the DMZ, and to locate strategic targets for destruction in the event of  open hostilities with the North. In 1963, the secret service was re-designated the Vietnamese Special Forces Command.

The forerunner of the present Strategic Technical Directorate (STD) was organized under the name Special Branch (SB) within the Special Forces Command. The SB consisted of two sections.
One section was responsible for in-country support sites. These support sites were located in Saigon for Airborne Operations, in Hue for cross-DMZ operations, and in Da Nang for  Seaborne operations. The second section was responsible for out-of-country support sites, which were established in Vientiane, Laos, Savannakhet, Laos, Bangkok, Thailand and Paris, France. The out-of-country support sections recruited potential agents for training in clandestine intelligence and interdiction operations. Because of funding problems, however, the out-of country program was eventually eliminated.
(TS) By 1964, the situation in RVN had become so critical that the SB was unable to handle escalating
special operations requirements. Because of this situation, the SB was reorganized as an independent unit, separate from Special Forces Command. In April 1964 the SB officially became the Special Exploitation Service (SES) and was placed under the command control of the JGS. Concurrent with the formation of SES, its counterpart US organization, Studies and Observation Group (SOG) was created. SOG assumed the responsibility for the support of SES special and unconventional warfare operations.
(TS) SES was organized with a Headquarters element in Saigon, the Coastal Security Service (CSS) in Da Nang, the Airborne Training Camp at Long Thanh, and attached VNAF elements. The VNAF elements included several special aircrews operating in close coordination with the MACSOG First Flight Detachment in Nha Trang.

(S) During the latter part of 1964, the NVA increased its infiltration of troops and supplies into RVN via the Ho Chi Minh trail. In response, SES was again enlarged in early 1965. Activated in April 1964 under the aegis of JGS to conduct reconnaissance in Laos and Cambodia, the previously autonomous Liaison Service (LS) was assigned to SES in January 1965. The SES was subsequently re-designated the Strategic Technical Service (STS). For the first time one agency was responsible to JCS for all special and UW operations supporting the RVN counterinsurgency program.

(S) By September 1967 the STS had grown considerably. To accommodate its new status, STS was re-designated the Strategic Technical Directorate (STD). The Director STD reported directly to the Chief of the JGS. At this time, the major subordinate units were the Liaison Service, the Coastal Security Service, the Special Task Force, the Airborne Training Center, and the Coordination and Liaison Detachment. Also, the STD Psywar Division was greatly enlarged to meet the growing needs of UW and Special Operations.
(S) In mid-1970, because of the deactivation of the US 5th Special Group, STD absorbed the Vietnamese Special Forces Command, which was re-designated the Special Mission Service (SMS). The resulting organization is shown in Figure 1.1 and has remained essentially unchanged to the present.

(S) STD was organized into two major field units, the Liaison Service and the Special Mission Service. LS was given the mission of conducting operations in Cambodia and the Republic of Vietnam south of the tri-border area; and SMS of conducting operations in Laos in SVN north of the tri-border area. In addition to general intelligence collection, LS and SMS teams were trained to conduct wiretaps, prisoner snatch operations, road and trail mining, and to direct TACA1R and artillery on lucrative targets.

(S) The Liaison Service was organized (Figure 1.2) with three task forces, along with combat service support elements. The capabilities of LS were somewhat reduced after May 1972 as a result of the deactivation of its Special Commando Unit (SCU) exploitation and security companies.
(S) The Special Mission Service was authorized five operational groups, but only four were assigned.
The organization of SMS operational units was similar to a Special Forces “A” Detachment, and was developed to facilitate the conduct of unconventional warfare operations in North Vietnam and Laos. SMS was organized as shown in Figure 1.3.
(TS) Additionally, STD had two autonomous subordinate units assigned, Group 11 and Group 68 located in Da Nang and Saigon, respectively. Group 11 consisted of nine 12-man STRATA teams, so called because of their mission: Short Term Reconnaissance and Target Acquisition.
These teams were trained in the conduct of road and trail recon, wiretaps, reconnaissance of selected
enemy installations, and target acquisition for airstrikes. Group 68 was responsible for two clandestine agent operations. The first of these, the Earth Angel program, employed NVA ralliers in three and four man intelligence collection teams. These personnel, carefully screened and recruited from Chieu Hoi Centers, were required to pass a polygraph examination before being accepted into the program. The second program was codenamed Pike Hill, and referred to Ethnic Khmer Intelligence Collection Operations. Pike Hill personnel were South Vietnamese citizens of Cambodian ancestry organized into three and five man teams for long term reconnaissance/ intelligence operations in Cambodia. For security purposes Group 68 headquarters was located in Saigon, while the operational teams were billeted and trained at Camp Yen The near Long Thanh, RVN.

(TS) Until early 1972, STD was tasked with cross-border operations only; however, the NVA offensive in April 1972 necessitated a reorientation of STD operations so as to concentrate on in-country tactical reconnaissance operations in support of the hard-pressed Military Regions (MR’s) This change in employment of STD was also due in part to the loss of US air assets, and the detachment on 5 May 1972 of the VNAF, 219th HELO Squadron. These events considerably reduced STD’s capability to respond independently to cross-border reconnaissance missions as deve1oped at the MACV and JGS intelligence targeting levels. Though the strategic role of  STD atrophied to a marked degree, tactical reconnaissance operations (in excess of 200 separate reconnaissance team (RT) missions) in support of the MR’s were instrumental in producing intelligence vital to RVNAF efforts to counter the NVA invasion and kept the RT’s of LS and SMS in a high state of preparedness for their primary mission of intelligence collection operations in North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. 

(TS) Upon the deactivation on 30 April 1972, of MACSOG (see 1971-72 MACV Command History, Annex B, p. B-1), which had carefully nurtured STD through the improvement and modernization programs of the past two years, a jointly staffed advisory agency was formed from residual MACSOG personnel, and designated the Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team-158 (STDAT-158). Consisting of a total of 152 Army, 6 Navy, and 2 Air Force personnel, STDAT-158 was organized as shown in Figure 1.4. STDAT-158 was chartered under a Secret missions and functions letter directive, dated 30 April 1972, signed by the MACV Chief of Staff. STDAT was activated on 1 May 1972 and was charged with providing advice, assistance, and limited financial and material support to STD; with developing, within capabilities, combined plans for special operations and unconventional warfare; and with maintaining direct liaison between STD and MACV agencies concerned with intelligence collection and related operational matters. STDAT was also directed to keep MACJ2 and J3 (later MACDI & DO) informed as to STD activities, to exert all possible efforts to insure that STD operations best served the objectives of the US MACV, and to encourage STD to consider intelligence collection requirements specified by MACDI. As a parallel to the direct command relationship existing
between STD and JGS, STDAT-158 Cmdr/SA reported directly to C/S MACV. As a cover, STDAT-158 was shown on the MACV organizational chart as a subordinate element of Army Advisory Group. Finally, STDAT-158 was charged by C/S MACV with serving as the MACV point of contact STDAT-158 was later directed, in addition to its advisory missions, to organize, equip, train and employ a Special Mission Force (SMF) and Coastal Recovery Force (CRF), whose organizational details and operational activities are described more fully in later chapters. Until mid-November 1972, STDAT-158 maintained field advisory elements at each of the STD locations depicted in figure 1.5. MACV drawdown Increment 14 required a reorganization of STDAT158 and a reduction in personnel to 42 Army, 1 Navy, and 1 Air Force. The resulting organization is shown in Figure 1.6. Effective 1 December 1972, STDAT continued in its advisory and assistance role, its capabilities greatly reduced in relation to what they were under its previous organization. Owing directly to the impact of the NVA offensive in April and the continued reduction of US forces in RVN, STDAT, for its part in the overall advisory effort, directed the majority of its energies and talents to the following:

1. Planning and coordinating its own draw down imposed reorganization.
2. Fulfilling its responsibility to place STD in as sound an operational and logistics posture as time would allow.
3. Developing the SMF, and CRF as rapidly as possible into forces operationally ready to perform their assigned missions.
4. At the direction of C/S MACV, in response to an urgent request from the Commander Second Military Region Assistance Command, forming and deploying a Special Training Team (STT). STT was organized and supported from STDAT resources, and was tasked with the conduct of a ranger training program for selected MR II reconnaissance and ranger companies. The objective of the STT training program was to upgrade II Corps capability to conduct deep penetration operations (ambush, raid, reconnaissance) in enemy rear areas. (TS) Meeting the first of these four general tasks complicated efforts to realize the other three. Careful planning, in particular, was required in order to support the STT right up to the time that Increment 14 draw down necessitated its deactivation, turnover of its equipment, reassignment of its personnel, and turnover of responsibility for conduct of the training to ARVN training cadre.
(TS) The most serious advisory problem encountered during the period covered by this history concerned STDAT’s endeavors to influence the employment of STD forces following the stabilization of the tactical situation in the aftermath of the NVA Invasion in April. This problem had its focus in efforts to reverse the JGS concept for employing STD forces. The invasion caused a shift in emphasis in the prevailing JGS concept from strategic to tactical intelligence collection, as already mentioned. In April 1972, MR-I, MR-II, and MR-III, and the Capital Military District (CMD) were given operational control over STD forces, and began to employ them in the respective Corps and CMD areas of tactical responsibility. The detachment in May of STD’s dedicated 219th HELO Squadron made STD completely dependent on Corps air assets for its operations and thus firmly lodged STD into a tactical as opposed to a strategic intelligence collection role. Although STD played an important part in the overall RVNAF effort to counter the NVA offensive, the tactical situation had stabilized enough by October to justify STDAT efforts to influence, by direct liaison with STD and though the MACV command chain, a redirection in STD’s operational emphasis from a tactical to a strategic role. Even though no formal change in STD’s commitment in support of the MR’s was announced or directed as a result of STDAT’s liaison/advisory activities directed to this end, a de facto situation recognizing such a change was apparent. The MR’s seemed to become aware of the dangerous inertia which had developed with respect to strategic reconnaissance. In mid-November they began to make air assets available and to encourage targeting of operations in the Laos and Cambodia base areas. As of this writing ten cross-border operations have been conducted following this renewal of strategic interest.
(TS) Another major advisory undertaking, concerned the planning, training, and coordination of
STD support of special, notional, and psywar operations developed in connection with CINCPAC CONPLAN 1508 (CINCPAC Message 060333Z June 72), the sensitivity of which exceeds the security classification of this document. The professional manner in which STD elements responded to the requirements of this plan gave direct evidence of the viable counterpart relationship that had been developed between STD and STDAT.
(TS) In response to the President’s order to halt all US military activities against the DRV and in anticipation of the cease-fire, on 15 January 1973, JCS cancelled all STDAT authorities for special operations against the DRV. With the signing of the Peace Treaty on 28 January 1973, STDAT prepared to stand down and transferred House 50* supplies to STD. On 12 March 1973, STDAT was deactivated.
(S) The chapters which follow present in more detail the advisory and, in the case of SMF and CRF, the operational efforts of STDAT-158. For the most part, the history of STDAT was bound up part and parcel with that of its STD counterpart. In some areas, control and support of SMF and CRF and logistical and administrative support of its organic agencies and personnel, the two organizations functioned quite separately. In the case of the STT mission and in the targeting and conduct of operational missions, the history of one generally coincided with that of the other. The RT operations portion of subsequent chapters, therefore, describe events jointly significant to STDAT and STD.
* Logistics Support Facility located at #50 Plantation Road.
(TS) Added: On 9 February 1973, Cmdr/SA met with COMUSMACV and Chief/Vietnamese Joint
General Staff (Chief/JGS) to discuss the impact of the deactivation of Team 158 on the operational
capabilities of STD. The following specific areas of impact were identified and discussed:

1. (TS) All funding support of STD special operations and UW training/operations would be terminated. Group 68 would, as a result, be deactivated. Earth Angels were to be discharged and Pike Hills drafted into ARVN and left assigned to STD.
2. (C) The limited contract airlift support of STD would terminate.
3. (S) STD‘s access to MACDI‘s aerial reconnaissance mechanisms for acquiring intelligence
for mission planning would terminate.
4. (S) Although STD would inherit a sizeable logistics facility and inventory from Team 158, STD would no longer have access, through its assistance team, to a special equipment acquisition system. It was estimated that in most commodity areas present special equipment stocks would sustain STD in excess of one year at its current level of operations.
(S) Discussion also focused on those measures necessary to reestablish STD in its primary role of strategic intelligence collection. Chief/JGS stated that the 219th HELO Squadron would be returned to dedicated support of STD. Finally Chief/JGS was informed that a US liaison officer assigned to the residual US military element, Defense Attache Office, would be the point of contact for coordination of the employment of STD forces in the conduct of post cease-fire casualty resolution activities.


On 19 July 1972 the Golf-5 Security Company (GSC) moved from Ban Me Thuot to the Team 36 Compound north of Pleiku City. Upon relocation of its 150 indigenous troops and 14 US personnel, the GSC was officially redesignated the Special Mission Force (SMF). The genesis of the Golf 5 Security Company is amplified on page 62.

(S) MISSION: Comprised of indigenous mercenaries led by a 21 man US contingent, Special Mission Force was tasked to conduct on order, PW/escape/evadee recovery operations, crash site inspection (CSI), and to assist Sea Air Rescue (SAR) forces, as requested, in RVN, and on a case by case basis in other SEASIA countries, and to conduct limited intelligence collection missions in RVN in support of prisoner recovery operations.

(C) PERSONNEL: Special Mission Force indigenous soldiers were primarily ethnic Montagnards

(98%) from three main tribes; Rhade, Sedang, and Jarai. In addition to the Montagnard tribesmen, there were a few Nungs (soldiers of Chinese extraction) and some Vietnamese. Most of the indigenous members of SMF had fought with US commanded Special Forces elements for five or six years. As a result of this long association, most of SMF’s indigeous soldiers had acquired a basic proficiency in English that enabled them to comprehend simple military instructionsand obviated the need for an interpreter in most cases. Whenever subjects required more detailed explanations a separate interpreter was required to translate the information for each of the three separate tribes. An additional interpreter was sometimes required in order to converse with the few Vietnamese members of SMF who, as a general rule, did not speak or understand any of the Montagnard dialects. The majority of SMF’s soldiers had been expertly trained during previous SF employ not only in the basic military skills but also in the more sophisticated techniques of special operations, which required unique and extensive training. Prior to their assignment to SMF most of the soldiers were members of highly trained Reconnaissance Teams (RT) with Command and Control Central (CCC). These special mission teams operated as subordinate elements advised by LSAD. Using six or seven men each, RT’s, trained for and executed small unit operations. The RT members also participated in various specialized training programs which included basic airborne training, High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) airborne training, long range patrolling, extensive night movement, helicopter rappelling, air mobile operations, and the use of the STABO personnel harness for inserting.and extracting individuals from inaccessible areas by helicopter. Prior to their assignment to SMF the majority of the SMF

indigenous soldiers were well qualified as individuals to conduct small unit combat operations.

The US personnel commanding the indigenous force came to SMF with a background in special operations techniques. Many of the senior NCO’s had served in Vietnam for as long as three years during which time they, had participated in Special Forces related operations.


RELATIONSHIP: SMF’s US contingent was not an advisory element but, uniquely at this stage of

the VN war, actually commanded and led this force of indigenous soldiers. SMF was organized into three platoons under a force headquarters element and an administrative section (see figure 13.1). Each US platoon leader had an indigenous counterpart platoon leader. All command decisions, however, both in the rear area and in the field were the responsibility of the US platoon leader. Including a Commander and First Sergeant, indigenous JTD positions were basically titular since final operational decisions were prerogatives of Commander SMF and others in.the US chain of command. In the cantonment area, by contrast, indigenous leaders were given maximum latitude to influence the actions of their personnel at platoon, squad, and fire team level. In most instances the US Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant issued orders through their counterparts, but by way of defining US command responsibility, it was not unusual, if the situation dictated, for US Platoon Leaders to give specific guidance to individual riflemen. Because there were only two US assigned to each platoon the judgment of indigenous leaders inevitably influenced decisions in the field. This was the rule rather than the exception since many combat operations employed squads performing as independent elements.

The level of expertise and training of the individual indigenous soldier generally assured him to

be of sound judgment, in some cases able to issue actions and orders as effective as those that might

have been expected from US leadership in similiar situations. The indigenous TD established a force

of 219 personnel; approximately 140 combat soldiers with the remainder being considered support

personnel. The US JTD provided for a force of 21 personnel. A US platoon leader and his platoon

sergeant commanded each of the three separate platoons even though the indigenous platoon had an internal chain of command, i.e., fire team leaders, squad leaders, platoon sergeant, and platoon leader. A US major (O-4) commanded SMF and was backed by a Montagnard counterpart who was the titular indigenous commander, and a highly respected former tribal chieftain. SMF did not experience the attrition trends among indigenous troops one would expect to find in a similar US unit. Personnel retainability was unique in that there was no ETS* concept for indigenous soldiers. A Montagnard soldier’s assignment with SMF would normally terminate only as a result of AWOL status, or a personal desire to quit. It was a rare instance when a man’s services were terminated as a result of inefficient job performance. The Montagnard soldiers responded to orders with a degree of alacrity rarely found in US soldiers serving even in the most ideal of circumstances. With morale problems virtually nonexistent, SMF’s soldiers proved themselves outstanding jungle warriors in every sense of the word.

(C) LOGISTICS: There are few instances in the military when a unit has virtually every supply

request filled promptly by its supporting agency, but the logistics section of STDAT-158, provided SMF with 95% of the items it requisitioned. Such responsive support insured maximum combat readiness for operations requiring, special equipment. Items which required immediate delivery were shipped on a priority basis using STDAT contract aircraft. personnel. The US JTD provided for a force of 21 personnel. A US platoon leader and his platoon sergeant commanded each of the three separate platoons even though the indigenous platoon had an internal chain of command, i.e., fire team leaders, squad leaders, platoon sergeant, and platoon leader.

A US major (O-4) commanded SMF and was backed by a Montagnard counterpart who was the titular indigenous commander, and a highly respected former tribal chieftain. SMF did not experience the attrition trends among indigenous troops one would expect to find in a similar US unit. Personnel retainability was unique in that there was no ETS* concept for indigenous soldiers. A Montagnard soldier’s assignment with SMF would normally terminate only as a result of AWOL status, or a personal desire to quit. It was a rare instance when a man’s services were terminated as a result of inefficient job performance. The Montagnard soldiers responded to orders with a degree of alacrity rarely found in US soldiers serving even in the most ideal of circumstances. With morale problems virtually nonexistent, SMF’s soldiers proved themselves outstanding jungle warriors in every sense of the word.

(C) LOGISTICS: There are few instances in the military when a unit has virtually every supply request filled promptly by its supporting agency, but the logistics section of STDAT-158, provided SMF with 95% of the items it requisitioned. Such responsive support insured maximum combat readiness for operations requiring, special equipment. Items which required immediate delivery were shipped on a priority basis using STDAT contract aircraft.

(C) ADMINISTRATION: Indigenous administrative matters to include awards and decorations, leaves and passes, hiring and firing, messing, billeting, limited family assistance, and pay disbursement were a US responsibility. Cmdr SMF had carte blanche authority to hire and terminate indigenous personnel and thereby exercised an exceptionally potent brand of command leverage. SMF’s soldiers considered their jobs lucrative ones in that wages were above average and the continuing departure of US units accentuated the scarcity of jobs, especially for Montagnards. SMF continuously received applications from indigenous personnel, special warfare qualified, seeking job vacancies. Drawing from a large pool of applicants SMF was able to select well qualified, highly trained soldiers, many of whom spoke and understood English. The soldier working for SMF realized that he could be replaced by someone of equal training and ability at any time. More than 50 per cent of the indigenous families lived within the compound area. The individual soldier’s concern for the safety of his family had a profound effect on his willingness to defend the compound since the protection of the compound directly involved the safety of his family. Both soldiers and families enjoyed, by their standards, excellent living facilities. A Montagnard mess hall provided a well-balanced diet of well prepared food. Low sick call rates and the few patients in the dispensary indicated the good health and vitality of the troops. Financial records accounting was done by SMF; however, headquarters STDAT-l58 maintained the personnel records on indigenous employees, thus minimizing the need to maintain detailed administrative records.


1. (C) GENERAL BACKGROUND: The initial emphasis, following the reorganization of GSC, was to train SMF personnel to perform the missions they had been tasked to execute on a contingency basis. One of these missions was to perform crash site inspections. Prior to activation of SMF the Golf- 5 Security Company had been tasked with crash site inspections and remains recovery missions on two separate occasions, following the crash of a China Air Lines contract C-46 flight carrying 32 personnel on board and that of a Cathay Pacific flight carrying 82 personnel. There were no survivors in either crash. Many of the techniques and procedures of SMF’s crash site SOPs were derived from the methods used by GSC during these missions. (Most of the personnel assigned to the Golf-5 Security Company, as has been previously mentioned, subsequently formed the nucleus of SMF). The contract C-46 (identified as Echo Mike-2) was flying a routine passenger haul for STDAT-158. The plane was enroute from Ban Me Thuot to Pleiku on 5 June when radar contact was lost. After it was apparent that the plane had crashed, a force of 16 US and 55 indigenous personnel rappelled from HELOs onto the crash site. Severe weather conditions hampered the initial search efforts, but recovery work began on 9 June and continued through 16 June, during which time all of the bodies were recovered:

11 US, 15 VN, and 6 Chinese. The Cathay Pacific recovery operation began on 16 June when a force

of 3 US and 25 indigenous personnel located and recovered 65 bodies. Crash site inspections and

body recovery missions are difficult to simulate. Even though the task of body recovery and aircraft

inspection is a grisly task invaluable lessons were learned from these CSI missions. SMF personnel by virtue of this actual experience became qualified and trained to perform CSI missions. Once this experience was analysed SMF was able to develop equipment lists and operations SOPs for future operations.


19.July – 16 Aug 1972 In order to insure that the level of combat training and special operations techniques were consistent throughout the Force, SMF began an intensive two week training program as soon as the Pleiku compound was occupied and the personnel organized under the new JTD. The initial training concept was to launch a program designed to teach fundamental, conventional infantry tactics and the use of individual and crew served weapons at the lowest echelon, i.e., the squad. Such a program required ranges and areas of operations; enough real estate to accommodate a 140 man force. In addition to the required training area, there were other considerations; lesson plans, qualified instructors, safety personnel, and all of the other support necessary to conduct an effective basic training operation. Some of these requirements constituted serious obstacles to the program. The Forces Armed National Khmer (FANK) Training Command was conducting squad, platoon and company level training at Camp Enari. Cmdr SMF arranged for SMF to participate in a two week training cycle as a contingent attached to a three company Border Ranger Battalion. Approximately 128 SMF personnel attended the training each day. The training cycle did, in fact, provide an excellent background for all subsequent SMF training. Prior to the formal two week FANK training cycle, which began on 29 July, SMF troops were given a new and complete issue of clothing and TA 50 equipment. Weapons were technically inspected and the necessary repairs were made. After numerous inspections, it was apparent that indigenous soldiers had a professional concern for the care and maintenance of both individual and crew served weapons. The logical progression for the next phase of training was to simulate various aspects of contingent missions and to develop reflexive reactions to specific tactical situations. From the very beginning of training, air assets were difficult to obtain. This lack of HELO support detracted from the realistic simulation and practice of contingent missions since practica1ly any mission SMF was expected to execute required a HELO lift capability.

3. (C) 17 Aug - 23 Aug: During this period SMF trained on those particular subjects and operational techniques which were expected to be most beneficial on actual operations. A priority requirement existed to teach the indigenous personnel mission essential communication procedures and basic radio maintenance. Much of the training conducted during this period was given on a formal basis in the classroom. The relatively complicated instruction on long range night operations, land navigation, and immediate action drill exemplified the exasperating experiences SMF periodically encountered in an attempt to insure that all three Montagnard tribes, Chinese, and VN received the subject matter translated and delivered in terms they understood. The results of practical exercises indicated that the important points were being conveyed with some

degree of accuracy. Also during this period considerable emphasis was given to the important

subject of night defensive positions (NDP).

4. (C) 23 Aug - 30 Aug:

a. Training up to this time had been conducted in relatively secure areas under simulated combat conditions. From this point on most of the training was conducted on actual operations where the eneny threat was real and the possibility of contact imminent. During the period 231300 to 251300H Aug, SMF conducted a live training exercise east of Pleiku. After a day of uneventful patrolling, a platoon intercepted and pursued two armed VC on 25 August. Following the VC to the east, the platoon discovered a small, recently vacated base camp at AR 980558. Leaving its heavy equipment and rucksacks secured by one squad, the platoon (-) followed fresh trails leading east. After passing through an abandoned VC way station, the platoon leader dispatched a six-man recon team to the north whete it encountered and wounded one of the fleeing VC. Three more men were spotted running toward the north and were fired upon with unknown results. The wounded VC was revived and medevaced to SMF Compound where he received first aid. Interrogation disclosed that he was a local force VC running a waystation for small NVA units moving south. The operation terminated without further incident on the morning of the 26th.

b. On 26 August at approx 1300 hrs SMF was tasked to perform a crash site/remains recovery mission for a C-123 that crashed into Dragon Mountain south of Pleiku City, killing all aboard. SMF was at the location of the crash site by 1500 where the eight victims were recovered and their remains transferred to the Camp Holloway Graves Registration (GR) detachment.

All personal effects and bodies were sent to Saigon by C-130. The entire operation was accomplished without incident, and remains identification by Saigon GR turned out to be a comparatively easy task because of the thorough recovery of personal effects, which later accompanied the remains to.the mortuary. Every effort was made to recover as much physical evidence as possible so as to meet the corroborative legal requirements for verification of deceased status.

5. (C) 31 Aug - 10 Sep 1972:  Since effective support in the field was a function of timely requests clearly and accurately transmitted to the SMF Tactical Operations Center (TOC), communications training continued to be emphasized: To facilitate displacement of the operational launch site or forward CP out of thePleiku area, a MRC-108 radio set (AF Combat Control Team Jeep with radio) was hand receipted from II Corps DASC1 on 10 Sep for use during a training operation 11-15 Sep. This exercise tested the concept of using the MRC-108 as a compact radio system at a launch site, or forward CP. The MRC-108 can be loaded internally in a CH-47 helicopter, or moved as a two piece sling load. Figure 13.2 depicts SMF communications net. Pleiku Province allocated their daily work helicopter to SMF on 7 Sep for rigging and rappelling training in which a refresher class on helicopter rappelling was given to the personnel of two platoons. The landing pad inside the SMF compound proved to be large and safe enough

for this training purpose. During this period SMF also established a training area south of Pleiku, easily accessible by road in the vicinity of coordinates AR 7943. The training in this area included live raid drills, live fire hasty withdrawals, immediate action drills, and practical application in the deployment and placement of mechanical ambushes. Practical exercises were the key to this training.

6. (C) 10 Sep - 17 Sep 1972. SMF conducted another live training exercise northeast of Pleiku from 11-15 Sep. HELO resupply being unavailable, SMF troops carried unusually heavy subsistence loads. This training demonstrated the physical stamina and psychological temperament required to conduct protracted field operations with minimum logistical support. SMF troops stood up well to long distance movement through rough terrain in inclement weather. The key to their durability may have been that many of the meals prepared in the field were supplemented by a variety of edible jungle plants. SMF troops displayed their native skill for quiet, undetected

movement through the jungle. However, when the unit was preparing the NDP, many of the soldiers talked too loud and too much and required a special leadership effort to eliminate this practice. During this mission a SMF soldier was taken ill by the reactivation of a dormant malaria virus, which is carried by most of SMF’s indigenous personnel, and, although immediate hospitalization was required, SMF experienced a two hour delay in receiving a medivac HELO.

The malarial soldier was eventual1y extracted from the field and treated. Such slow response to a dangerous medical problem obstructed operational effectiveness and once again emphasized the scarcity of air assets. During this period two platoons made enemy contacts from which valuable lessons were derived. Moving through dense underbrush, the point man of one of the platoons encountered two enemy before a cooking fire at a distance of less than ten feet. Armed with an M-79, the point man realized that his round would not arm at this distance. Taking advantage of his momentary hesitation, the startled enemy bolted down the hill and vanished into a

tangle of vines and bushes. The lesson learned in this incident was the advisibility of using a buckshot cartridge in the M-79 when carried by the pointman. In a concurrent engagement another platoon lost its chance to kill or capture enemy they observed at close range because of an inaccurate radio transmission. As a result of this incident, radio communication training was given added emphasis.

7. (C) 17 Sep - 1 Oct 1972: During this training week SMF continued to receive limited helicopter support from Province and was able to conduct rappelling with personnel wearing full combat loads. All personnel successfully completed this training using the STABO harness. SMF also conducted a limited reconnaissance mission from 23-28 Sep in support of a 23rd ARVN Division operation. Several problems were experienced during the course of this reconnaissance effort. Commanded by the SMF XO, the entire force deployed by truck into an AO 15 km southwest of Pleiku near Thanh An. Platoon areas of operation were assigned daily and individual platoons directed to employ a cloverleaf movement from patrol bases established at suitable points. These tactics allowed squads, whose heavy gear was dropped at the base, to cover a wider area more quietly and with less fatigue. Initial area of operation (map sheet 65361) was north of QL 19. Local coordination with the ARVN regimental advisor was made on the afternoon

of the 23rd. On 24 September SMF moved north into its AO within which platoons were released for independent movement. During the day one platoon discovered fresh bunkers containing medical supplies and blood traces. On the morning of 26 Sep SMF moved into a new AO. Immediately upon entry and for the remainder of the next day, 27 Sep, SMF discovered in an old tea plantation numerous bunkers that gave evidence of being less than 3 weeks old and of having been inhabited as recently as the last 3-4 days. The bunkers were large enough to accommodate a regimental HQs and contained trails and commo wire within 900 meters of the road. No enemy was encountered, but there was evidence that he had just evacuated his defensive positions. On the afternoon of 27 Sep SMF operations were suspended to allow ARVN units to pass through the eastern half of the AO, and to prepare for a change in mission. Intelligence received 27 Sep indicated the possibility of enemy infiltration from the South and Southeast and the location of enemy mortar sites at grid intersection 1632. Three ambush positions were established after dark on 27 Sep. One ambush was initiated (ZA175319) about 280450 Sep against an estimated 10 enemy with unknown results. VC/NVA encountered were moving NE to SW alonng a major road and were apparently evading south to rejoin their main force. On 28 Sep all platoons reassembled then proceeded into a third AO along the Ia Tok and Ia Tang streams. Several well beaten trails were found running eastwest toward a tea plantation in the area, but no enemy contact was made. All platoons were picked up and returned to SMF compound 281600 Sep 72. Several problems were experienced during this operation. The area of operation, distinctly identified by prominent terrain features, was assigned exclusively to SMF.

As the operation progressed it became apparent that very little information concerning SMF’s locations was being coordinated between the two ARVN Bns involved in the overall operation.

Although Cmdr SMF had established control and coordinating measures at every ARVN command

level, on several occasions ARVN troops moved unannounced through the SMF AO.

Fortunately there were no incidents involving US and ARVN troops as a result of this obvious lack of communcations through ARVN channels. The operation graphically illustrated the control

problems inherent in joint operations involving units from two separate command headquarters.

Finally, the lack of enemy contact generated a lapse of enthusiasm which resulted in tactica1 carelessness among indigenous personnel.

8. (C) 2 Oct - 8 Oct 1972. A Special Training Team (STT) consisting of 15 US personnel and 15 VN arrived in Pleiku where it was billeted in the SMF compound for the conduct of a two month reconnaissance training program in support of II Corps. The instructor personnel were detached from STDAT and STD counterpart units. During the week two SMF platoons, the 2nd and 3rd, stood by as a reaction force while 1st platoon conducted operations in the An Khe area, undertaken at the request of Second Regional Assistance Command (SRAC) to support Saigon Graves Registration (SGR) personnel in a remains recovery mission. Two days prior to the execution of this operation, 1st platoon leader conducted a VR to include a brief stop at the An Khe

airfield to coordinate the operation, with the District Senior Advisor (DSA), An Tuc District.

On 3 Oct.the 1st platoon was air lifted by helicopter (CH-47) from Pleiku to An Khe vicinity of AN 455473. The HELO then flew to the An Khe airfield where the District Senior Advisor was awaiting the arrival of Cmdr SMF and an accompanying representative of the SGR. The three personnel moved by vehicle to the location where a skeleton had first been discovered in 1972.

The 1st platoon soon joined the Cmdr SMF, SGR, and DSA, and for the next thirty-six hours conducted an extensive search for skeletal remains thought to have been overlooked at the time of the initial collection effort. No further skeletal remains could be located. The search was discontinued after SGR personnel concluded that any additional effort appeared futile. At the conclusion of this mission the 1st platoon conducted an additional search in the vicinity of the Song Ba river adjacent to the north end of the An Khe air field. SGR records indicated that two US bodies had not been recovered from the site of a 1966 crash of a C-123. The ensuing search failed to locate the remains. Even though no remains were recovered in the search, SGR was able to determine conclusively that any future attempt to recover remains on these particular cases, i.e., the crash site of 1966 or the skeletal remains found in March 1972, would not be

worthwhile. From 6 October the entire unit was on a 45 minute standby alert as a reaction force for an STT training operation which was being conducted northeast of Pleiku.

9. (C) 9 Oct - 15 Oct 1972. During 10 through 12 October, 3rd platoon of SMF conducted operations north of Pleiku in support of STT, which was working with two reconnaissance Companies from the 22nd and 23rd ARVN Divisions. Primary mission of the 3rd platoon was to provide a radio relay between STT recon companies and rear STT TOC. Insertion of the 3rd PLT was made by VNAF helicopter about 101030 Oct 72. After establishing the relay site the small patrols were sent out, OP’s were established, and mechanical ambushes were withdrawn pending return of patrols. At about 1000 hrs one OP fired claymores at 2 VC. The main body of the platoon quickly opened up with M-79. The Commander of the Third Platoon followed blood trails with two squads for about 500 meters down the hill before losing the trails in a stream. No further contact was made. An OP then reported VC dressed in black pajamas moving south to north armed with one AK-47 and ammo chest pack but carrying no other equipment. The radio relay site was moved about 900 meters on 111230. No further enemy contact was made. Beginning 121130 October 3rd platoon moved to a pick up zone and extracted by VNAF helicopter without further contact. The techniques of mechanical ambushes, OP’s, small patrols, and manned ambushes were emphasized during the operation. The 1st platoon later conducted a reconnaissance in Phu Nhon district from 13 to 15 Oct. The following is an account of the execution phase of this operation narrated by the Platoon Leader: MISSION: Locate and verify the size of an estimated 70 man VC force. (Suspected location vicinity AR 853076 period.)

EXECUTION: “1st platoon (SMF) conducted an air move from Pleiku to firebase 43 (AR 851147). The platoon was shuttled by truck from Firebase 43 to AR 879088 at 131330 Oct 72,entered the AO immediately thereafter, and moved to vicinity of AR 864076 for NDP. No enemy activity during the night. The following morning (14 Oct), after conducting a cloverleaf patrol outside the NDP and withdrawing the ambush set out the previous night, I moved the platoon east to AR 867075. My reasoning was that if I had been compromised during the night, it would now look as though we were moving toward the road and not toward the target area. At 1230 hours, after moving by bounds throughout the morning we heard someone chopping wood off to our right. As soon as I had set up a perimeter vicinity AR854067, I dispatched two 5 man RTs. One (1st squad) was ordered to recon west and northwest approximately 400 meters. In the event contact was made by an RT, the plan was for all elements to move to the point of contact. If both RT’s made contact they were to break contact and return to the patrol base. At 1330 hours the RT on recon to the northwest made contact. Enemy was NVA (good uniforms with fairly new web equipment). First he attempted to draw us into his bunker complex by trying to appear as a very small force. Later he exposed his full strength (approximately 300) and showed that he was determined to flank us. He would not return the fire from the 4th squad, but continued to maneuver for a flanking advantage. He was well armed (approximately 20-30 B-40’s landed on or near our positions). I learned later that 2 B-40 rounds landed in our headquarters but did not explode. I called in artillery on the enemy complex and on the area west of it to try to prevent us from being flanked. While we waited for gunship support, the enemy assaulted the 1st squad with B-40’s and AW fire. When gunships arrived, I had them work the north side of our position and then the west side. As the 1st squad fell back behind the headquarters, I decided that the only way to prevent a suicidal withdrawal to the east was for headquarters to remain in place so as to encourage the remaining indigenous troops to hold their ground. When the gunships had expended all but two remaining runs (ordnance), I had them make a final run on my southern flank and radioed all but 4th squad to withdraw due east to the road. I ordered 4th squad to remain as a delaying force and then directed it to drop rucksacks and follow due east. I learned later that 4th squad never cleared the original patrol base, but instead moved into the center portion of it when it became completely flanked. The squad leader

intended this movement to confuse the enemy force and to give the platoon (-) the extra time needed to carry out our wounded. The NVA pursued us approximately 1000 meters to the east.

I could not use the gunships to cut them off because I didn’t know how far behind the 4th squad was. One man was wounded during pursuit. A MEDEVAC was conducted in vicinity 867068.

The platoon finally reached the road vicinity 882078 from was trucked to Phu Nhon.

The province Senior Advisor and the II Corps Commanding General concluded that the aggressive

action by the 1st platoon prematurely precipitated a large scale enemy attack in the Phu Nhon district. Known results of the operation were: enemy - 2 KIA, 1 WIA; SMF - 2 KIA, 5WIA, 3 MIA.

10. (C) 16 Oct - 20 Oct 1972: Training was limited during the period because of the requirement

to retain SMF as a standby force for an STT raid mission. SMF displaced to Camp Enari during the STT mission to act as a reserve and to provide guards in the event prisoners were captured.

SMF was not committed during the STT airmobile reconnaissance/raid operation. Following the action on14 Oct, the recovery of the KIA’s and MIA’s lost during the contact was given top planning priority. The unstable tactical situation in Phu Nhon district, however, postponed this operation until late November. The unpredictable enemy situation in the Pleiku Area at this time continued to curtail SMF operations and make planning for future operations uncertain.

11. (C) 21 Oct - 27 Oct 1972: The SMF second platoon conducted a point reconnaissance mission

in Pleiku province during 23-25 Oct. During this recon, contact was made with what seemed to be a platoon or larger size enemy force. As a result of this contact one the SM indigenous personnel was KIA and two indigenous WIA. One US adviser suffered a bullet wound in the arm and was later evacuated to the United States. The operation was conducted in the hills west of Pleiku. On the afternoon of 23 Oct, the platoon moved north into assigned AO to locate

suspected NVA rocket (122m) artillery elements and launch sites. Although some local intelligence was gained.from Montagnards concerning a village meeting conducted by NVA representatives the day before, no signs of enemy were located. On the morning of 24 Oct, the platoon moved west to check the reported meeting area -- no fresh traces were found. The platoon then moved to a reported rocket launching site. A few fresh trails leading NW-SE were found late in the afternoon. The platoon leader determined to wait until the next day to contiinue because of approaching darkness. About 0745 on the morning of 25 Oct, three squads moved down the slope SW from the NDP. More fresh trails were encountered. At ZA 161518 the platoon encountered evidence of tree cutting and immediately afterward observed a large (6 ft high) bunker-like structure concealed under trees. The platoon leader brought the platoon on line to check the area. About two minutes later (appr. 0830) voices were heard, and the Platoon Sergeant opened fire on the first of four NVA/VC moving toward the bunker. He killed three NVA

and wounded another. The platoon maneuvered forward about 30 meters, encountering six or

more bunkers and surprising the NVA occupying this area. Fighting broke out close to the bunker entrances. An estimated 10 NVA were killed in this area. One SCU RTO was killed. The Platoon Leader and a rifleman were wounded. The p1atoon received RPD and B-40 fire from ridgelines to the SW and north as they withdrew to the east to a hasty LZ, where the wounded were evacuated and artillery and gunships called in against the fortified enemy positions. The

platoon then rejoined its remaining squad and continued moving east to vacate the target area

for air strikes. The air strikes resulted in several secondary explosions. The platoon later moved

to a truck pickup point from which it returned without further incident to the SMF compound.

12. (C) 28 Oct - 3 Nov 1972: The tactical situation indicated the increased presenceof large numbers of enemy forces in the proximity of Pleiku City. Both ARVN and NVA Forces were attempting to control as much territory as possible in case of a cease-fire. Air assets remained heavily committed and therefore SMF was unable to launch planned operations. Because helicopter gunships were unavailable, SMF had to be especially careful to avoid training in areas where contact was likely. SMF used this time to good advantage by catching up on compound maintenance, and brushing up on techniques that could be taught in the compound or in a relatively secure training area south of Pleiku City at Camp Enari.

13. (C) 4 Nov - 10 Nov 1972. SMF was involved with training in the local area while on standby for STT. This training, conducted for the most part on the SMF compound, emphasized hand and arm signals, ambush techniques, and first aid. On 7 November, 35 SMF troops and one US advisor departed for Da Nang to assist SMSAD secure Camp Fay during SMSAD’s deactivation, and to prevent equipment losses between the time SMSAD made its final inventory and the time SMS signed for Camp Fay. When the compound was transferred, the SMF element returned

to Pleiku. SMF continued as the standby force for STT until it finished its second training cycle. This responsibility kept SMF from engaging in other than minor training operations. After coordinating tasking procedures directly with Cmdr/SA, STDAT-158, G-3 informed Cmdr SMS of six crash sites within Pleiku province for planning purposes. SRAC had fairly complete information on the sites and indicated that airlift support would-be provided for the operations.

14. (C) 11 Nov - 17 Nov 1972. Special Mission Force had made two separate attempts to identify and locate crash sites in response to missions generated by JPRC. It was evident that the crash site archives maintained by JPRC contained considerable sketchy and unsubstantiated information concerning aircraft crashes which occurred during the early stages of the war, i.e.,between 1964 and 1967. Experience gained from investigations near An Khe and south of Pleiku, indicated that it was very difficult to locate vestiges of the crash site and traces of bodies not recovered (BNR). The elements, in conjunction with the lush jungle growth, completelyobliterated or obscured any visible trace of the crashes. An initial ground reconnaissance into supposed crash site areas proved to be a time consuming, arduous task. Experience on the ground proved to be the only way to develop reliable methods for crash site inspections. SMF

was able to make the following observations relative to CSI: After a crash site inspection mission has been proposed by JPRC, the recovery team leader must make a thorough map reconnaissance and accurately pinpoint any villages or habitations in the proximity of the crash. Depending on its size, the recovery force should canvass as many villages as possible for information concerning possible crash sites. Interpreters are essential to minimize the confusion caused by the language barrier. Information collected from separate sources should be compared when,

the team reassembles and an analysis made concerning the reliability of data furnished by JPRC.

From the information collected from these various sources the recovery team leader should be

able to decide upon a viable course of action.

15. (C) 18 Nov - 24 Nov 1972. SMF conducted a recovery operation in an attempt to locate the five SMF personnel lost in the Phu Nhon district on 14 Oct. The operation was an obvious boon to morale since confinement to the compound had fast become boring. The operation also gave credibility, to the avowed U.S. interest in the welfare of the indigenous soldier and respect for his customs. Prior to the search, one of the local village inhabitants indicated to the Phu Nhon district Senior Advisor that he knew the location of two bodies in the vicinity where the men had been reported lost. SMF interrogated the informant and took him on the operation to the area he designated. Two bodies were, in fact, found, but neither of the bodies proved to be SMF personnel;

one was an NVA soldier and one was a RVN militia soldier. Because of the rugged terrain, dense undergrowth, and almost impenetable elephant grass, SMF was unable to locate the exact area of contact. The operation was terminated and plans were made to try again as soon as the tactical situation in Pleiku province would allow for adequate air support.

16. (C) 24 Nov - 9 Mar 1972. Continuing indications of an imminent cease-fire restricted SMF activity to training in a secure area south of Pleiku. The force conducted field training in immediate action drills, night movement, and zeroing weapons, and classroom sessions and later practical application in the adjustment of artillery fire. An inclusive inventory of camp, post, and station property and all equipment signed for by the S-4 section was conducted in order to insure the timely and orderly transfer of equipment to the VN in the event of a negotiated ceasefire.

Restricted close-in training continued at the direction of Cmdr SA in a manner intended to avoid casualties but insuring that SMF would be fully capable of performing immediate post cease-fire CSI’s. During the period, SMF conducted a crash site inspection 15 KM north of Qui Nhon of a F-4 which crashed in 1966. Previously located by aerial reconnaissance, the site had never been inspected. Two SMF platoons were airlifted by C-130 from Pleiku to Qui Nhon and

then inserted by helicopter to the vicinity of the crash site. The force began the search on 21 December, spent the night in the area, and resumed search operations on 22 December with one platoon utilized as a security unit while the second platoon conducted search operations. SMF’s search of the site failed to turn up either remains or physical evidence bearing on the status of the personnel involved in the crash. An uncorroborated report was received from a former Regional Force soldier, who stated that one of the F-4’s two crewmen was taken prisoner by Viet Cong. District officials were requested to interrogate other local villagers in an attempt to corroborate the above assertion. Three Saigon Mortuary personnel assisted SMF on this mission.

(C) SUMMARY: Upon the activation of SMF, more than eight months ago, its single objective was to achieve a state of readiness which would insure the accomplishment of any mission assignedit.  The unit trained and conducted combat operations in virtually every type of terrain and environmental conditions one would expect to encounter in Vietnam. At times, harsh physical demands tested the soldiers’ resolve to continue, often carrying to the point at which men of lesser courage and stamina have failed to meet the challenge. In the course of the training and operations previously described, SMF soldiers developed the expertise, durability and mental

toughness to perform their missions. Each SMF training or combat operation provided its members

with vital experience of a kind not found in military manuals. Lessons learned generally identified basic principles which had either been overlooked or poorly executed. Precision, concerted effort and expertise in executing jungle operations were the rewards of this demanding combat training effort. Finally, SMF’s training and combat engagements proved that it was vir tually impossible to overtrain a combat soldier, but, to the contrary, when training was punctuated

by actual enemy engagements, the training achievement level took on the utmost importance

to every man in the unit.



(TS) Throughout the period May 1972 - February 1973, Advisory Element 68 was responsible for implementing the Earth Angel and Pike Hill programs. In addition, a Group 68 AE assisted STD in establishing the Thang Long Project. During this period, STDAT was tasked with several classified contingency missions which involved Group 68 Advisory personnel. Group 68 AE is collocated with Group 68 at Camp Nguyen Cao Vi, and at Camp Long Thanh. Group 68 agent personnel were billeted and trained at the Camp Long Thanh Isolation facility. Because of manpower ceiling reductions, Group 68 AE was reduced to one officer and one NCO on 25 November 1972.


(TS) Earth Angel. The Earth Angels program was a low-level intelligence collection effort which used three or four man teams made up of NVA ralliers. All Team members were airborne qualified and were capable of insertion by parachute, helicopter, or walk-in. Selected individuals were HALO qualified. Typical Earth Angel missions included roadwatch, riverwatch, area,

point, and linear reconnaissance. On occasion, teams were also given bomb damage assessment missions in support of ARCLIGHT operations.

(TS) Pike Hill. The Pike Hill program used ethnic Khmer and South Vietnamese citizens of Cambodian descent to establish low-level agent nets among the civilian population of Northeast Cambodia. The teams normally consisted of three to four personnel and were programmed to operate for periods of up to six months in duration. In addition, selected Pike Hill teams were inserted into target areas to perform area reconnaissance and bomb damage assessment.


(TS) Earth Angel. Throughout the cited period, Earth Angel teams took specialized training in demolition, aerial resupply, and CW radio communications in order to refine their capability tooperate for extended periods of time in enemy-held territory with minimal outside support. Two cross-border missions into Cambodia were conducted during the period with mixed results. Information reported by teams and overflight aircraft indicated that large concentration of combat service support troops and support facilities were located in the assigned target areas. Follow up

actions included ARCLIGHT strikes and subsequent bomb damage assessment missions by Pike Hill teams.

(TS) Pike Hill. The Pike Hill program continued to be strengthened by additional airborne, communications, and aerial resupply training. The objective of this additional training was to enhance operational security and to enable the teams to remain in target areas for extended periods of time. Nine Pike Hill  reconnaissance and bomb damage assessment team missions were conducted in Cambodia during the period. Information reported during these missions was used to select targets for ARCLIGHT strikes against the large enemy build-up in Cambodia. Selected Pike Hill agents were being trained for possible future long range reconnaissance operations in Northeastern Cambodia at the time of Group 68’s deactivation. It was envisioned that, the agents would have remained in the enemy’s combat service support/logistics rear areas for periods of up to 60 days. Information derived from these missions would have been used to develop ARCLIGHT targets.


  1. VI. Thành Lập MACSOG Và Nha Kỹ Thuật

    Một điều đáng để ý là tuy OPLAN 34A dự trù xử dụng quân lực miền Nam, nhất là quân chủng Hải Quân, nhưng phía VNCH lại không được tham khảo ý kiến khi soạn thảo để kịp thời chuẩn bị. Mãi tới ngày 21 tháng giêng năm 1964, khi kế hoạch đã được Bộ Tham Mưu Liên Quân Hoa Kỳ đồng ý cho thi hành đợt 1, Đại Sứ Hoa Kỳ Henry Cabot Logde mới thông báo với Quốc Trưởng Việt Nam Dương Văn Minh về kế hoạch OPLAN 34A cùng cho biết chính phủ Hoa Kỳ đã chấp thuận kế hoạch này và yêu cầu VIệt Nam hợp tác bằng cách cho quân đội tham gia. Ngày 24 tháng giêng, Toán Hành Quân Đặc Biệt (Special Operations Group - SOG) được chính thức thành lập do Đại Tá Clyde Russell chỉ huy, dưới quyền điều động của Phái Bộ Quân Sự Hoa Kỳ tại Việt Nam (MACV). Do đó, cơ quan đảm trách những cuộc hành quân đặc biệt này thường được gọi tắt là MACV-SOG hay MACSOG. Sau này, vào năm 1964, tên Special Operation Group được đổi là Studies and Observation Group (Toán Nghiên Cứu và Quan Sát) cho có vẻ "dân sự" hơn, nhưng tên viết tắt vẫn là MACSOG.

    Nhìn chung, kế hoạch OPLAN 34A do MACSOG chịu trách nhiệm và gồm có 4 thành phần chính: thả toán bằng phi cơ, tiếp tế bằng phi cơ, hoạt động đường biển và chiến tranh tâm lý. Trong số này, toán "hàng không" có đông nhân viên nhất vì được thừa hưởng 169 nhân viên Việt Nam đa số là dân sự đang được huấn luyện tại Long Thành do CIA để lại.

    Ngày 28 tháng giêng năm 1964, cuộc chỉnh lý củaTướng Nguyễn Khánh khiến kế hoạch của MACSOG bị chậm lại vì Hoa Kỳ cần phải được sự chấp thuận và hợp tác của chính phủ mới. Tướng Khánh là một người chủ trương "Bắc Tiến" nên tới ngày 12 tháng 2, Sở Kỹ Thuật (Strategic Technical Service - STS) thuộc Bộ Quốc Phòng VNCH được thành lập do Đại Tá Trần Văn Hổ chỉ huy để hoạt động song hành với MACSOG. Sở Kỹ Thuật là hậu thân của Sở Khai Thác Địa Hình (Topographic Exploitation Service) trước đây của Đại Tá Lê Quang Tung dưới thời Tổng Thống Ngô Đình Diệm. Về sau, Sở Kỹ Thuật được đổi tên thành Nha Kỹ Thuật (Strategic Technical Directorate - STD).


    Vào lúc nửa đêm ngày 30 tháng Tư năm 1972, chiến sĩ, nhiệm vụ và đơn vị SOG “Đoàn Nghiên Cứu Quan Sát” đi vào lịch sử. Đơn vị SOG giải tán theo chương trình rút quân của quân đội Hoa Kỳ và đơn vị bí mật “Nha Kỹ Thuật” sẽ thay thế đơn vị SOG. Toán cố vấn STDAT #158 gồm có các cố vấn trưởng, cầp chỉ huy dưới quyền Đại Tá Presson thuộc Lưc Lượng Đặc Biệt Hoa Kỳ có nhiệm vụ bảo đảm kỹ thuật chuyên môn cho các bộ phận trực thuộc Nha Kỹ Thuật, Quân Lực VNCH.
    Từ tháng Giêng năm 1964 cho đến cuối tháng Tư năm 1972, vùng hoạt động, khu vực hành quân xâm nhập của đơn vị SOG rất nguy hiểm, trải dài từ những tỉnh phiá nam Trung Hoa cho đến tận vùng đồng bằng phiá nam Cambodia. Các cuộc hành quân bí mật (chiến dịch) của đơn vị MAC-SOG, 31, 34(A) và 33, 34(B) nhắm vào khu vực phiá bắc. Hành quân 80 “Phòng Nghiên Cứu Thâu Hồi” (Recovery Studies Division), mới đầu xử dụng căn cứ, phương tiện trực thăng, quân biệt kích từ hành quân 35 (Biệt Hải), thực hiện những chuyến cấp cứu phi công Hoa Kỳ bị bắn rơi nơi miền bắc Việt Nam và bên Lào, thâu hồi (xác chết). Hành quân 35, 36 đảm trách các cuộc hành quân thám sát khu vực phi quân sự, Lào và Cambodia.
    Trong những năm cuối, đơn vị SOG đảm nhiệm thêm nhiệm vụ tiêu diệt “chính phủ trong bóng tối” (shadow government - MTGPMN) của chính quyền Hà Nội. Những tin tức tình báo chiến lược lấy được về quân đội Bắc Việt có giá trị rất cao cho cấp chỉ huy Hoa Kỳ và Đồng Minh trong vấn đề điều quân.
    Tháng Sáu năm 1972, Đại Tướng Frederick C. Weyand là vị tư lệnh cuối cùng của Bộ Chỉ Huy Quân Viện Hoa Kỳ tại Việt Nam. Ngày 12 tháng Ba năm 1973, đơn vị Nha Kỹ Thuật QLVNCH chấm dứt tất cả các cuộc hành quân ngoại biên do đơn vị SOG bàn giao lại. Ngày 29 tháng Ba năm 1973, bộ chỉ huy Quân Viện Hoa Kỳ (cơ quan MACV) lặng lẽ chấm dứt nhiệm vụ cũng như khi họ đến Việt Nam.

    Đoàn Nghiên Cứu Quan Sát (Study and Observation Group – SOG) trực thuộc cơ quan MACV (MACV-SOG) là một đơn vị tối mật do các quân nhân tuyển mộ từ Lực Lượng Đặc Biệt Hoa Kỳ đảm trách, thâu thập tin tức tình báo chiến lược, trước và trong chiến tranh Việt Nam. Đơn vị SOG được thành lập ngày 24 tháng Giêng năm 1964, để thực hiện các cuộc hành quân xâm nhập lấy tin tức tình báo chiến lược trong miền nam, miền bắc Việt Nam, Lào và Cambodia. Ngoài ra các toán biệt kích SOG đảm nhận thêm những nhiệm vụ đặc biệt như bắt sống tù binh đem về khai thác lấy tin tức (mới nhất), cấp cứu phi công Hoa Kỳ bị bắn rơi (nơi miền Bắc Việt Nam hay trên đất Lào), hoặc cứu tù binh Hoa Kỳ (và Đồng Minh) bị giam giữ trong các trại tù binh bí mật của địch trong vùng Đông Nam Á. Bộ phận khác thuộc đơn vị SOG lo nhiệm vụ tâm lý chiến, đánh lừa địch, gài điệp viên, nội tuyến vào trong hàng ngũ của địch.
    Đơn vị SOG góp phần trong gần hết các cuộc hành quân, chiến dịch nổi tiếng trong trận chiến tranh Việt Nam, kể cả vụ “chạm trán” vùng Vịnh Bắc Bộ (Tonkin Gulf Incident) đưa đến việc Hoa Kỳ leo thang, đem quân qua Việt Nam. Các cuộc hành quân khác như: Hổ Thép (Tiger Steel), Tiger Hound, tết Mậu Thân (Tet Offensive), vượt biên qua Cambodia, qua đất Lào (Lam Sơn 719), và trận tấn công lễ Phục Sinh (Easter Offensive – Mùa Hè Đỏ Lửa).
    Đợn vị SOG được thay thế bởi toán cố vấn 158 với nhiệm vụ cố vấn cho Nha Kỹ Thuật QLVNCH ngày 1 tháng Năm, 1972.

    Sung Kyun Kwan University
    July 1st, 2012 vđh