SITE MENU (UPDATED 31.05.2017)

Use search function please. All the info found with Ł - refers to this site

This Article Content

JAMES R. ARNOLD
TET OFFENSIVE 1968. TURNING POINT IN VIETNAM

Ironically, by the time the combat schools had updated their curriculum to teach counter-insurgency, the enemy had switched to more conventional, mainforce tactics. Ranger School's 'muddy diploma' - so called because most graduates attended during the monsoon season when combat was at an ebb - and much of the other instruction that was supposed to take place while Americans bore the brunt of combat, failed to achieve American expectations. Part of the problem stemmed from poor equipment. Most ARVN units lacked modern radios, essential for calling artillery and air support. Before Tet, only the elite Airborne battalions and Marine Brigade, one infantry regiment, and five Ranger battalions possessed M-16 rifles. The balance of the ten regular infantry divisions and virtually all the various militias made do with assorted outdated weapons. These units knew they were outgunned when confronting AK-47-firing North Vietnamese regulars or mainforce Viet Cong.

Endemic corruption afflicted many units. Thieu's spoils system kept him securely in power by awarding command positions to cronies, but combat leadership suffered. The common soldier knew that all too often his officers enriched themselves on US aid meant to increase their fighting ability. This situation prevailed even among so-called elite units. Periodically, Westmoreland had to threaten to withhold funds from Ranger battalions, supposedly among the army's best, because they were absconding with massive amounts of aid intended for the civilians they were protecting.

When examining the pre-Tet ARVN order of battle, American planners saw a very uneven picture of performance. Some ARVN units had benefited from withdrawal from front-line combat. Others had lost all combat effectiveness. There were some excellent units, most notably the airborne and marine units. An American adviser said of them:

'These guys are part of the strategic reserve. They get moved all over the country to fight and are away from their families 10 or 11 months a year, year after year. They are all volunteers. When people say the South Vietnamese won't tight, they shouldn't include units like the Vietnamese Marines.'

However, in the American estimation, corruption and poor training, leadership, and equipment rendered six of the ten regular divisions combat ineffective.

ALLIED ORDER OF BATTLE

US FORCES AND STRENGTHS, 31 JANUARY 1968

Divisions

1st Marine Division (22,466)

3rd Marine Division (24,417)

1st Cavalry Division (18,647) (the Army's best)

1st Infantry Division (17,539)

4th Infantry Division (19,042)

9th Infantry Division (16,153)

23rd (American) Division (15,825) (newly formed)

25th Infantry Division (17,666)

101st Airborne Division (15,220) (airborne in name only)

Brigades and Other Units

173rd Airborne Brigade (5,313)

199th Infantry Brigade (4,215)

11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (4,331)

5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) (3,400)

Summary

79 Army battalions, 23 Marine battalions, 3,100 helicopters

Allied Forces

1st Australian Task Force (three battalions, about 6,000)

Royal Thai Army Volunteer Regiment (Queen's Cobras) (about 2,400)

Capital (Tiger) Infantry Division (Korean)

9th (White Horse) Division (Korean)

2nd Marine Corps Brigade (Korean)

Authorized Korean manpower: 42,769

Actual pre-Tet strength: 48,800

ARMY REPUBLIC OF SOUTH VIETNAM

Airborne Division (élite)

Marine Corps (two solid 3-battalion brigades)

1st Division (the best regular division)

2nd Division (problem-prone, high desertion)

5th Division (barely effective)

7th Division (barely effective)

9th Division (the Army's poorest)

18th Division (combat-ineffective)

21st Division (a good division)

22nd Division (adequate, improving)

23rd Division (adequate, improving)

25th Division (improved after receiving M-16s)

Ranger Battalions (uneven, from very good to poor)

Regional Forces (151,376 militia)

Popular Forces (148,789 militia)

Civilian Irregular Defence Groups (42,000 militia)

Total Allied Forces as of 31 December 1967: 1,298,000

/ page 4 from 27 /

We have much more interesting information on this site.
Click MENU to check it out!

cartalana.com© 2013-2017 mailto: koshka@cartalana.com

Google+