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  • ATTN: Altus

    From Ernie Chamberlain's translation of the D445 history, p. 48 footnote 165:

    ...In 2008, Vietnamese contributors to an official Vietnamese military blogsite challenged the Australian figures for Viet Cong casualties as excessive - see Altus, Tran Long Tan, Quan Su Viet Nam website, 8 May 2008.

    I'm genuinely interested in this - I'm by no means a Long Tan expert, and am inclined to view all body count figures with suspicion, but I'm definitely curious as to the basis of this challenge.
    Colonel Summers' widely quoted critique of US strategy in the Vietnam War is having a modest vogue...it is poor history, poor strategy, and poor Clausewitz to boot - Robet Komer, Survival, 27:2, p. 94.

  • #2
    Hi thejester,

    Originally posted by thejester View Post
    I'm definitely curious as to the basis of this challenge.
    What we contended was the PAVN OOB, troop strength and casualties claimed by the Australians. Most Australian documents listed the PAVN forces at the battle at the 275th Regiment, the D445 battallion, reinforced by an North Vietnamese battalion (supposedly element of an 45th Regiment) and various auxiliary elements, with troop strength totaling 1500-2500 men. The Australian body count number was 245, with speculation that many more had been dragged away.

    PAVN official history of the 5th Division, of which the 275th was an element, identified the PAVN forces involved as the 275th Regiment (1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions), the D445 battalion, and a local transport company.

    We projected that the 1500-2500 troop strength figures by the Australians were derived from the assumed OOB (275th + 445th + 1 battalion). We argued that there was no reinforced North Vietnamese battalion to the 245th, and the total number of PAVN combat units were four rifle battalions. At full strength, they would have had 1600-1800 combat troops, but many Vietnamese documents of that time period confirmed that PAVN units in the South in 1966 were seriously understrength, with companies often reduced to 50-60 or less able-bodied troops. Therefore, PAVN troop figures by some Vietnamese veterans interviewed by Australians after the war - 700 to 800 men, seemed more consistent with our understanding.

    With that in mind, Australian claims of 245 bodies counted on the spot, not to mention claims based on PAVN allegedly captured documents, which put the casualties figures to 500 or even 800, way too excessive, as this would have meant the near complete annihilation of those PAVN forces, which in reality were conducting subsequent operations in the area within a few weeks. As we understood the PAVN veteran officers interviewed by the Australians expressed similar view.

    We did not build our contention on the official figures of 32 KIAs and 60 WIAs provided in that official history of the 5th.

    Comment


    • #3
      Altus,

      Sorry for the delayed reply, and thanks for the figures - pretty solid case. Spent yesterday reading the post-service interviews of Brigadier Jackson and MG Graham, who commanded 1ATF from May 66 through to November 67. It was interesting that on the status of the 275th, both had slightly differing views - Jackson argued it had been KO'd at Long Tan and was out of operations for 'a long time' while Graham argued the same but put the date as the Lo Gom/Operation BRIBIE stoush in early 1967. What does the 5th Div history say the regiment did post Long Tan and did it fight 1ATF again in Feb 67? I'm interested because not only did both officers have differing views of the status of the 275th, both had subtly different views as to the threat posed by Main Force units. Jackson acknowledged the 274th was still fighting fit in the north of the province but believed the pressure had been eased by Long Tan. Graham in contrast pointed to the arrival of the 9th Infantry and 11th ACR as the factors that secured 1ATF in an operational sense. My impression is 1ATF basically became irrelevant to the 5th as the focus shifted to the Saigon approaches. Fair?
      Colonel Summers' widely quoted critique of US strategy in the Vietnam War is having a modest vogue...it is poor history, poor strategy, and poor Clausewitz to boot - Robet Komer, Survival, 27:2, p. 94.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by thejester View Post
        What does the 5th Div history say the regiment did post Long Tan and did it fight 1ATF again in Feb 67?
        ...
        My impression is 1ATF basically became irrelevant to the 5th as the focus shifted to the Saigon approaches. Fair?
        Yes, you're correct. Here is a brief summary of what followed Long Tân in that 5th's official history.

        "In October 1966, units of the Division were deployed to carry out operational tasks for the 1966-1967 dry season. Linked with local forces of Bà Rịa-Long Khánh, we launched a campaign south east of Saigon, aimed at rear areas of the American 11th Armored Brigade, the Vạn Kiếp training center, conducted route ambushes and attacks on enemy outposts, opposing enemy's pacification campaign on the eastern rim of Saigon, pulling enemy forces eastward, thus assisting our forces on the main axis of the campaign (north of Saigon and Tay Ninh). We therefore contributed to the defeat of enemy's second dry season counter-offensive.

        In November 1966, The Division HQ moved to the La Hoa creek, The 4th (274th) regiment was deployed in the triangle area between the Routes 1, 2 and 51, ready to repel enemy operations in the Kim Long - Cam My area. The 5th (275th) regiment was stationed west of the Route 20, with the task of opposing enemy's pacification operations in Phuong Lam - Dinh Quan, as well as setting ambushes on Route 20.

        ..."

        Later on, they described the first major battle within that 1966 dry campaign - an attack at an ARVN regional force battalion at Trảng Bom on November 11, 1966 by 2/274, with 1/274 and 3/274 setting an ambush for the reinforcement column from Long Khánh.

        AS for 1967, they briefly mentioned Operation Dan Tam of 18/01/1967, depicted as an attempt by the ARVN, Australian Forces, the US 11th Armored Brigade and elements of the US 199th to destroy the 5th. They wrote that from January to July 1967, the 5th was actively opposing this kind of operations, although only one encounter with elements of the 199th and ARVN 52th on January 30, 1967 at Kim Long, and an attack by the 274th on elements of the 11th Armored Brigaded on April 2, 1967 were briefly mentioned.

        The 275th in turn was described as "struggling with famine, malaria and lack of supplies through most of the six month dry season", and its first major operation in 1967 that was described in that history was a battle against the ARVN 52nd on May 4th, 1967 at the Ong Don junction.

        Comment

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