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Early in the war infantry commanders realized the need for specialized units to gather intelligence on enemy activity in their own particular area of operations. Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs) were formed within most Divisions and separate Brigades, often of platoon strength or less. The primary task of these small teams was to locate and monitor the enemy so that manoeuvre battalions from their parent unit could engage them. LRRP unit members were volunteers; picked for their bush skills, they had to be adept at all aspects of silent patrolling. In 1967 these provisional LRRP units were officially authorized and redesignated as Long Range Patrol (LRP) companies of approximately one hundred men. Other tasks entrusted to LRP units included surveillance and target acquisition for airstrikes, ambushes and prisoner snatches. Because the four-man teams operated within enemy controlled areas resupply of food and ammunition was not always possible; consequently, special freeze dried meals were developed. These 'LRRP rations' became much sought after by conventional troops because of their light weight as compared to C-ration cans.
LRP team members were allowed to purchase indigenous camouflage clothing, the most common being the ubiquitous 'tiger-stripe' pattern. The uniform illustrated is typical of garments made under a Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP) contract or a Vietnamese copy of such. The uniform was made of a medium weight cotton, and the colours of the pattern have an overall warm ochre tone which some collectors refer to as the 'gold' variant. The shirt features chest pockets which close with a double-button flap, and a small pocket on the upper left sleeve intended for a field dressing but commonly referred to as a 'cigarette pocket'. The trousers feature two rear and two thigh pockets each with a two-button flap, as well as an additional cigarette pocket on the lower left leg. All the pockets on this uniform are typical of Asian-made garments, having a bellows gusset on one vertical edge only, allowing the pocket to expand to some extent when full.
The locally-made 'boonie hat' is manufactured from a similar, though not identical, tiger-stripe fabric to the uniform. These hats were produced in all the variations of camouflage pattern and weight of fabric, and would rarely match the uniform exactly.
The tropical combat boots are the second pattern with ankle supports and a spike-resistant aluminium insole to counter the punji-stake booby traps at which the VC were so proficient. Gloves are the M1950 Leather Glove - Strap Closure which have had the fingers and thumbs partially removed; called 'Recon gloves' as they were favoured by reconnaissance-type personnel such as LRPs, they protected the haitds from thorns and vines while allowing unimpeded use of weapons and radios.
It was common practice for LRPs and other deep recon troops to use M1956 canteen covers in lieu of universal pouches to carry rifle magazines, due to their larger capacity. To the suspender yoke behind the neck is taped a can of Serum Albumin, a blood volume expander used to maintain the blood pressure of severely wounded casualties until they could be evacuated.
The Indigenous Ranger Pack or 'ARVN rucksack' was popular with many US personnel who appreciated its light weight and generous capacity. The cotton-duck pack, with its two external pockets, was mounted on a sprung metal X-frame which kept the load away from the back. The ARVN rucksack was originally produced for the South Vietnamese Rangers and was based on a captured North Vietnamese Army pack. One of the rucksack's advantages was that it sat high on the back, allowing full use of the rear of the pistol belt, which was not the case with some US packs. A first pattern Two Quart Collapsible Canteen in its nylon carrier is attached to the top of the rucksack. Four one quart plastic canteens are also snap-linked to the pack - the dried LRRP rations took a lot of water to reconstitute.
On the M16A1 rifle is fitted an AN/PVS-2 'Starlight scope' - a first generation battery-operated nightsight which worked by magnifying the ambient light emitted by stars.
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