Chapter XII: 
(2-5 June 1966)
Operation LAM SON Il provides a glimpse of some innovations which had nearly as great an impact on the struggle in Vietnam as the defeat of the enemy by force of arms. While the enemy must be destroyed or forced to surrender by a combination of firepower and maneuver, it is pacification which must end the unrest created by the enemy, improve the lot of the people, and build a cohesive, viable state. The weapons in this war may be the healing hands of a surgeon, a bag of rice, a loudspeaker message, or even toys for children. The 1st Infantry Division used weapons of this unconventional nature and incorporated psychological warfare in combat operations.
At 1530 on 2 June 1966, the first day of a successful hamlet festival in Tan Phuoc Khanh wound down with all the festivities of a county fair. The steady sound of the 1st Infantry Division Band had seemed out of place as it marched through the streets of the small Vietnamese village. It was not just a concert but a weapon in "the other war."
The seal and search of the village had started the evening before. While the rest of the division was preparing night patrols, selecting outpost locations, and digging in to establish night defensive positions, Major Henry J. Wereszynski's 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, was conducting an airmobile assault to set up a cordon around Tan Phuoc Khanh and its 9,000 inhabitants. A combined force of five companies had been formed to cordon the village. Major Wereszynski had Companies A, B, and C with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, attached and the 7th Company, 7th ARVN Regiment, in support.
LAM SON I1 -a combined operation conducted by Headquarters, 1st Infantry Division Artillery, and Headquarters, 5th ARVN Division-had started with a highly successful hamlet search and "county fair" operation on 26 May 1966 in Binh Chuan village. Because of the wide publicity, the cordon and seal of Tan Phuoc Khanh had to be completed as quickly as possible to offset the loss of surprise. The helicopter would be a valuable tool in providing the necessary speed.
The mission was to pacify the village, conduct a thorough search, root out the Viet Cong infrastructure, gather intelligence, and "win

PICTURE: 1st Infanry Division Band Performing at Tan Phuoc Knahn
the hearts and minds of the people." Planning and execution involved close teamwork between U.S. and Vietnamese forces. There was no single commander in charge, but rather a combined staff of both Vietnamese and U.S. personnel from the two headquarters was formed.
As the airmobile force was flying toward its landing zones, Major Wereszynski, in the command and control ship, was reviewing the plan in his mind, Company A would assault into a zone north of the village, Company B would be on the east, and Company C would land in the south. Troop A, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, and 7th Company, 7th ARVN Regiment, were already moving overland to complete the cordon. As the air assault ended, the ground elements were moving into position. The village was sealed at 2010 hours on 1 June 1966. Later that night Company A was moved by air mobile assault farther north to cut off possible Viet Cong escape routes.
At 0605 hours 2d Company, 7th ARVN Regiment, moved into the village. Loudspeakers proved to be extremely valuable in reducing the alarm of the villagers, advising them what to do, and providing a means of control. While the external cordon remained in position, 2d Company soldiers established additional cordon lines to further divide the hamlet into three sections. Search forces from Binh

PICTURE: Woman Wins Yorkshire Pig in Lottery at Another Hamlet Festival.
at another hamlet festival.
Duong Province soon followed and spread throughout the village to begin the search. The force had been tailored to fit the needs of this operation and contained many different types of U.S. and Vietnamese units.
The first step was to assemble all men between the ages of fifteen and forty-five. These men were moved to the National Police headquarters in Phu Cuong for additional screening. Next came the real heart of the cordon and search operation: the hamlet festival. The festival was designed to display the concern of the Vietnamese government for the welfare of the people. The start was sounded by the Binh Duong Province band at 0830 hours. By 0900 hamlet residents began arriving in the central area and were greeted by personnel from province headquarters.
Although not used at Tan Phuoc Khanh, several tactical units conducted a lottery during county fair operations. Instructions or information to villagers were distributed by means of leaflets, which were stamped with lottery numbers. These leaflets helped control the people and, at the same time, maintain their interest in the program. The winners received household items as prizes.
The hamlet festival can best be compared to a small town's fall carnival with speeches by candidates who are running for office. To

PICTURE: Villagers From Refugee Camp in Bien Hoa Province Receive Treatment During a MEDCAP
the children it was all fun and games. Likewise, the adults found it enjoyable and were interested to hear about national programs from a government official. In a war of insurgency, such an operation is the essence of the fight.
As the people gathered in the entertainment area, the 5th ARVN Division band began the Vietnamese national anthem. Coupled with the bright red and yellow Vietnamese banners and flags, this action conveyed to the people the presence of a government-one that cared. It was a welcome feeling in the midst of a protracted war. The national anthem was followed by a performance of traditional dances and pantomimes by the 5th ARVN Division cultural teams. Then the province chief, Lieutenant Colonel Ba, and the district chief, Captain Phuc, explained the government program to the people and urged them to support the government cause. Colonel Ba stayed all day talking to elders and heads of households.
The hamlet festival was a collection of several functions, The Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) station was manned by medical personnel from one of the U.S. units. The staff normally included a doctor, medical specialists, Vietnamese interpreters, and

sometimes a dentist. The operation was conducted like a "sick call" and held in conjunction with psychological activities. The medical treatment was mainly symptomatic-aspirin for pains, soap and medication for skin diseases, and extraction for toothaches. Serious medical cases were referred to other facilities outside the military channels for proper treatment or corrective surgery. The Youth Service Activity entertained the children so that the parents were free. Games were played, songs were sung, candy and toys were handed out to the children, and movies were shown. At one point Colonel Ba joined the children for a game of ball. The Vietnamese Agricultural Service provided information to the elders about farming and explained to the villagers how the government was prepared to assist the farmer. This service was very popular with the people.
At 1200 an American luncheon of hot dogs, potato salad, milk, juice, and all the extras was served. Although the people commented about the strange taste of the food, they all returned for second and third helpings. The meal was an interesting change from their normal rice-heavy diet.
The psychological operations and civil affairs teams performed several duties. They helped direct and control the people at first and mingled with the crowd, talking to small groups. They were able to discuss government opportunities and learn what the citizens needed and wanted from the government. The real purpose of the hamlet festival was to bring the government to the people and, at the same time, to turn an intelligence operation into an activity that the citizens would find pleasant. A major objective was to eliminate the Viet Cong infrastructure. All civilians were therefore required to pass through identification stations for an interview, a check of their identification cards, and the issue of special passes. This process allowed the detection of false identification papers and the selection of persons for further screening. Other stations were established for persons who wanted to volunteer information. Rice was given to all persons during the interviews.
By the time the 1st Infantry Division Band paraded through the streets, the results were becoming evident. Of the 740 men who had been sent to Phu Cuong for screening earlier in the day, 29 were found to be Viet Cong suspects, 9 were army deserters, 4 possessed false identification cards, 13 were former Viet Cong who had violated the limits of their probation, and 62 were South Vietnamese draft dodgers. The search of the village had turned up 25 additional Viet Cong suspects, including 3 women carrying medical supplies and 10 men hiding in haystacks and wooded areas. The scout dogs had discovered two tunnels in the village.
During the day 325 individuals had been interrogated at the identification stations. Two of these were identified as Viet Cong, one

allegedly the Viet Cong village secretary. A sketch of the U.S. Phu Loi Base Camp was found on the body of a Viet Cong killed during the assault to establish the cordon.
The cordon force remained in position throughout the night, and on 3 June the festival continued. Selected areas were again searched. The western portion of the village yielded forty-eight more Viet Cong suspects. They were hiding in haystacks, tunnels, woodpiles, and watchtowers. By the end of the second day, the festival had succeeded in softening and changing the attitudes of many individuals who had been hostile to the government. The operation was such a success that it was extended for a third day. By the end of the festivities, the civilian population truly wanted to assist friendly units in securing their village. One woman was given 200 piasters for volunteering information leading to the apprehension of a Viet Cong suspect hiding in a coffin. A confirmed Viet Cong led an intelligence platoon to a weapons cache that also contained Viet Cong tax collection statistics. He had decided to return to the government of Vietnam as a result of the hamlet festival. Many individuals spoke of Viet Cong harassment tactics in the village and stated that if they had sufficient security many more people would come there to live.
The cordon and search coupled with a hamlet festival was truly an innovation in civil affairs and psychological operations. "The primary accomplishment was the demonstration of an effective technique to bring government, including necessary force to initiate law and order°, to a contested hamlet. Without the cordon and search the operation would have been merely a festival. Without the festival the operation would have been another 'police action.' Together, the effort (was) a useful means to begin a pacification drive."
At 0400 hours on 5 June 1966, the task force was moved a few hundred meters to the north to Hoa Nhut hamlet for the next operation. A pattern had been established to hit the Viet Cong at their most vital point their infrastructure. Information acquired at a later date indicated that the Viet Cong had reviewed the Tan Phuoc Khanh operation and had estimated that they had lost 50 percent of their effectiveness. They also figured that two months would be needed to recoup their losses.
In a country like Vietnam, where citizens are subjected to the pressures and terrorism of an insurgent force and where the power and aims of the legitimate government are questioned and tested each day, any action or incident that shows the individual citizen that his government is interested and concerned in his welfare is highly effective. The hamlet festival served this purpose well.
In previous experience, guerrilla forces represented the government that had been displaced by the invading army. In Vietnam the guerrilla force represented an external power. Acts of terrorism were

directed not at the invading army but rather at the innocent civilian. All actions were designed to discredit the existing government and to win the citizens over to the enemy. This situation changed the whole concept of civil affairs activities. In the words of Major General Melvin Zais, former commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, "a well organized and managed effective civic action effort is absolutely essential to the attainment of our aims in Vietnam."
The civil affairs general staff officer (G-5) became increasingly important to the commander who was planning operations. In Major General Donn R. Pepke's 4th Infantry Division, "civil affairs teams [were] employed daily in support of tactical operations." While the operations general staff officer (G-3) was making plans for engaging and destroying the enemy force in an area, the G-5 was planning methods and operations to win the loyalty and support of the local civilian population. This aspect was a significant change from World War II, when civil affairs and civic action were conducted after the hostilities had ended.
A planning and control organization was obviously needed at brigade and battalion levels to deal with the problems involving civilians. A temporary arrangement was made at first, but the experience gained and the lessons learned early in the 1965 buildup prompted the creation of the civil-military operations field. This action led to the designation of an S-5, civil affairs officer, in every separate brigade.
The use of loudspeakers, the artillery of the civil affairs officer, became a fine art in Vietnam. The 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) supported ground operations with loudspeakers borne by helicopters. Divisions issued 1,000-watt loudspeaker equipment to each brigade and sometimes to battalions. As a result of this practice, if prisoners were taken or defectors encountered during tactical operations, the units were able to react quickly to the opportunity to use these men in developing loudspeaker appeals to their former comrades. In the 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, such an appeal was then transmitted by the defector talking over a PRC-25 radio to a helicopter that rebroadcast the message while flying over his former unit. Thus the helicopter again demonstrated its importance in Vietnam by enhancing psychological operations. Major General Albert E. Milloy, 1st Infantry Division, stated: "Aerial PSYOP proved most effective when employed in the quick reaction role, in support of troops in contact, or for immediate exploitation of ralliers." Psychological operations were also carried on by frontline troops using bullhorns or hand-held megaphones. Messages from a newly captured prisoner or a defector were broadcast to enemy units still fighting. In September 1966 an enemy soldier rallied with his weapon to a 1st Infantry Division unit and was immediately interrogated by the G-5. A loud-

PICTURE: Member of *th PSYOP Battalion and his Montagnard Loudspeaker Team broadcast Propaganda Message.
broadcast propaganda message.
speaker tape was produced in which the rallier talked about the good treatment he was receiving and asked former company members, by name, to surrender. Within twenty-four hours, eighty-eight members of the unit defected.
Leaflets were used separately or to complement loudspeakers. A multilith press was provided at the division level for quick reaction. On 13 May 1970 an agent reported that within Phong Dinh Province some 300 local force Viet Cong were to be recruited and sent to Cambodia as replacements for North Vietnamese Army units that had suffered heavy losses. The information was passed to the U.S. intelligence adviser and the province adviser for psychological operations. By 1600 on the same day, the psychological operations staff had prepared a leaflet capitalizing on the raw intelligence information. The priority target selected for the operation was the area of Phong Dinh Province, which was known to harbor hard-core Viet Cong. The province adviser for psychological operations and the S-5 adviser arranged to have the leaflets distributed throughout the appropriate districts during that night and the next day. Late in the evening on 14 May, the first Hoi Chanh rallied in Phung Hiep District with a copy of

AVDB-CG 22 March 1967
SUBJECT: Unsoldierly Conduct of Officers of Cong
Truong 9
TO: Commanding General
Cong Truong 9
HT 86500 YK
Dear General:
This is to advise you that during the battle at Ap Bau Bang on 20 March the Regimental Commander of Q763 and his Battalion Commanders disgraced themselves by performing in an unsoldierly manner. 
During this battle with elements of this Division and attached units your officers failed to accomplish their mission and left the battlefield covered with dead and wounded from their units. 
We have buried your dead and taken care of your wounded from this battle.
SIGNATURE: J. H. Hay Major General,
               USA, Commanding
J. H. Hay
Major General, USA
the leaflet in his hand. By 23 May, twenty-eight Viet Cong had rallied, stating that they had done so because they were afraid of being sent to Cambodia. In a campaign to attract more ralliers through

personal messages, the 101st Airborne Division gathered photographs of known Viet Cong operating in its area of operations. The families were asked to prepare personal messages to their relatives in the Viet Cong forces. Their messages, together with the appropriate photograph, were made into leaflets and dropped in the area where the individual was thought to be operating.
The S-5 of the 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, developed a "white envelope" concept, designed to reach soldiers in the Viet Cong forces and the infrastructure with personalized messages from their families. Each family with relatives in the Viet Cong forces was given a white envelope containing a Chieu Hoi (open arms) appeal, rally instructions, a safe conduct pass, and a letter of amnesty from the local village or district chief. The intention was that the family would deliver the material to the Viet Cong member. This technique directed psychological pressure against both the family and the individual target.
The success of personal messages was best described by a Vietnamese who took advantage of this opportunity.
My family lived under communist control for more than ten years, and I was forced to work for the Viet Cong. I was constantly afraid of being hit by American artillery, and I was seldom allowed to see my wife, even though I was a local guerrilla.
Then I found a Chieu Hot' pass dropped by an American helicopter. My wife and some friends told me that it would be good to be a Hoi Chanh [a person who has rallied], but I hesitated for many weeks.
One day I came back from an operation to find that my wife had taken our children to Lam Son, out of VC reach. So, with the pass sewed to the lining of my shirt, I waited for my chance to escape NVA control, and turned myself over to the GI's.
Since then I have been trained to do scout work. I can see my wife and children every week, and am happy working with the 1st Division soldiers.
Several innovations were introduced to assist the interpreter at the lowest level frontline unit. Bilingual questionnaires were prepared which enabled commanders to gather intelligence and develop appeals quickly for psychological purposes. In March 1970 another infantry division initiated the idea of a bullhorn booklet to aid in the production of rapid-reaction messages. The booklet contained twenty-four printed messages, varying from appeals to warnings about restricted areas. The tactical units could select an appropriate message and have a Vietnamese broadcast it immediately. Other units used multilingual tapes. The 1st Infantry Division obtained excellent results from trilingual tapes, which were based on the ethnic background of civilians in an area.
The greatest innovation made in the G-5 area during the course of the Vietnam War was the increase in importance of psychological operations, civil affairs, civic action, and populace and resources con-

trol. Whereas before, G-5 activities had been viewed as supporting an operation after the fighting had ended, they were now integrated into the combat operation plan itself. Commanders and staff officers at battalion, brigade, and division levels learned that combat operations ultimately supported pacification, not vice versa.

page created 15 December 2001

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