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Page 162(The Spectrum of Pacification and Vietnamization)previous pagenext page


The Spectrum of Pacification and Vietnamization, 1970

Line Units in Pacification-Kit Carson Scouts in 197 a-Targeting the VCI-Civic Action, 2970 Communist Counter-Pacification Efforts-Vietnamization-Results, 1970

Line Units in Pacification

While their primary mission was to attack enemy military units, Marine rifle companies and battalions often conducted operations directly aimed at im­proving population control and security. Usually cooperating with Vietnamese police and Regional and Popular Forces and sometimes with CAP and CUPP units, Marine infantry participated in cordon and search operations, protected rice harvests, and fur­nished security for GVN elections. In addition to these long-standing activities, during 1970 some units be­gan trying to reorient their entire scheme of opera­tion toward protecting the people and eradicating the VC underground.

Cordon and search operations, varying in size from a surprise raid on a hamlet by a platoon searching for a single Viet Cong agent to a two- or three-day sweep of a village complex by a battalion, remained a fre­quently employed, productive tactic. In the larger cor­don and search operations, referred to as County Fairs, several companies of Marines worked with RF or PF units, Vietnamese national police, and U.S. and Viet­namese intelligence and counterintelligence teams. Moving in before dawn, the infantry surrounded the target area, allowing no movement in or out. Then Vietnamese troops and police, occasionally aided by Marines, collected all the civilians at a prearranged spot outside the village. Here each person was questioned and his or her identity checked against lists of known or suspected local VC. At the same time, teams of Viet­namese troops and police searched each house for con­cealed arms, food, and equipment and combed the village for VC hidden in tunnels and holes.

While the search went on, the Americans and Viet­namese entertained the assembled villagers with mo­tion pictures, plays, and comedy skits by GVN propaganda teams, and often a concert by Marine bandsmen. Whenever possible, the Marines sent in a medical team to treat minor illnesses and injuries and give advice on health. These activities gave the opera­tion its 'County Fair' aspect and nickname. By means of them, the allies hoped to win the allegiance of the villagers or at least to make less irritating the disruption of their daily routine.1

Late in 1970, the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines began adding a population census to the usual cordon and search. In the villages of Ap Quan Nam and Kim Lien north of Da Nang, the battalion, aided by RF and na­tional police, kept its cordon around the village long enough for the police to conduct a detailed census. The police listed and photographed every inhabitant of each house. They also made a complete inventory of the contents of each dwelling and a drawing show­ing the building and all objects and structures around it. The troops and police would then leave, only to return a couple of weeks later and compare people and buildings to the earlier lists, pictures, and diagrams. If a young man of military age whose name and pic­ture were not on file, appeared in a house he was taken away for questioning. If a haystack was found where none had been, the searchers tore it apart looking for arms or food, often finding them. The Marines and their allies hoped that this technique, used earlier by the French, would make it easier to detect VC infiltra­tion and VC supply caches in the hamlets.2

During the year, the Marines began conducting few­er large County Fairs and more surprise small-scale cor­don and search operations. These operations, the S-2 of the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines recalled:

. . . were very short, lasted two or three hours. We just dropped out of the sky with the helicopters with the cor­don and then moved in with the A [rmed] Propaganda] T [cam], a C [ounrerintelligence] sub-team, an ITT [Inter­rogation and Translation] sub-team to support us, and whatever informants we happened to have that prompted the operation, scoff up the people we warned and go, alt within three hours . . . 3

By moving quickly with minimal advance planning and coordination, the Marines improved their chances of surprising VC or VCI in the hamlets. The short du­ration of the actual search meant less inconvenience for the villagers and hence, Marines hoped, less resent­ment of the government.

Aided by increasingly large numbers of RFs and PFs, the Marines continued their effort - called Operation Golden Fleece-to keep the twice-yearly rice harvest

Page 162(The Spectrum of Pacification and Vietnamization)previous pagenext page

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