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In October, Lieutenant Colonel Le Trung Tuong, the Quang Nam Province Chief, developed the Ngu Hanh Son (Nine Villages) pacification campaign in a nine-square-mile area of Hoa Vang District, south of the Cau Do River.* Tuong divided the objective area into two sectors, one consisting of a five-village complex west of Route l and the other, a four-village complex east of the highway. Taking advantage of the protective screen afforded by the 9th Marines' advance south of Da Nang, the province chief proposed to pacify the western sector by the end of the year. This area included the villages of Cam Ne, Duong Son, and Yen Ne where the 9th Marines first encountered organized VC resistance during July and August. Lieutenant Colonel Tuong planned to insert a political action team (PAT) and a Regional Force company from the 59th Regional Forces Battalion into each of the five villages of this sector.** He then hoped to recruit 1, 000 Popular Forces troops to relieve the RF companies. Tuong intended to station one PF squad in each hamlet and a platoon in each village. The 9th Marines was to coordinate its activities to provide additional security for the pacification efforts, as well as furnishing some material resources.31

USMC Photo A186322

As part of their civic action program, the Marines provided dental care to the South Vietnamese villagers. This makeshift dental clinic near Da Nang is obviously very popular.

The VC were quick to realize the threat of the new program, but the enemy also quickly found a vulnerability. The program for the PFs and the RFs was too ambitious. PF recruiting policy had not showed the hoped-for success. The PFs, the RFs, and PATs offered lucrative targets; the VC were quick to take advantage. By the end of November, about 10 to 15 percent of the PAT members had resigned, fearing reprisals from the VC, forcing the 9th Marines to increase its involvement in the area to offset VC gains.

The 9th Marines provided security for nearly a quarter of the campaign area during December, but the Viet Cong avoided the Marine-held territory and continued their offensive against the PFs. During the last week of the year they halted almost all government progress. On 21 December, the enemy attacked one of the PAT units, killing four of its members. Later that afternoon, 60 VC, sheltered for two days by the peasants of Cam Ne and Yen Ne, struck the 593d RF Company, whose sole mission

* Lieutenant Colonel Tuong was also Assistant Commander of the Quang Nam Special Sector, which was established on l September 1965, and reported directly to I Corps. As such, he assumed responsibility for rural construction in both Quang Nam Province and Da Nang Special Sector. The Quang Nam Special Sector, a military command, controlled all ARVN forces in Quang Nam Province. The authority of the Quang Nam Special Sector commander often overlapped that of the Quang Nam province chief, which was one reason why Tuong was the assistant commander of the special sector as well as province chief. By combining both responsibilities, he remained in the chain of command for the military aspects of pacification, while retaining authority over the political and administrative functions of the province.

** The political action teams were American-trained pacification cadre. While part of the teams provided limited security within the hamlets, the other members assisted the villagers in building up the local economy and meeting community needs. Colonel Simmons, the III MAF G-3, later observed that the formation of the 59th Regional Forces Battalion 'actually was an innovation. RF Companies had not previously been combined into battalions.' BGen Edwin H. Simmons, Comments on draft MS, dtd 26Sep76 (Vietnam Comment File).

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