[Image 1: Department
of Defense Photo
to the Defense
Saigon was Tan
Son Nhut Air
Base, the most
in South Vietnam
and the primary
site for evacuation.
Parked between the revetments are Vietnamese
Air Force C-130As
which were used,
in addition to
as platforms for delivering BLU-82 bombs.]
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operation's success or failure. Long before the final options were developed, members of General Burns' staff addressed the critical area of communications. Early in February 1975, communicators wrote a plan which, when modified by fragmentary orders, supported any emergency operation to evacuate civilians from Southeast Asia. With this already in his possession, Commander, USSAG only had to make minor adjustments.
The planned nets, assigned frequencies, and call signs were combined with frequency and circuit designators. Married with the organizational structure, they produced a master radio plan. By entering it into a computer, the planners then gained the flexibility they needed to accommodate any last-minute changes. By this means, a fragmentary order could be issued designating what nets to activate and what steps to follow, which in turn allowed the plan to support any of the potential organizations. The computerized communication plan smoothly incorporated the changes precipitated by the brigade's reorganization on 17 April, avoiding a time-consuming rewrite of the original plan.25
Restructuring of the brigade aided the planners in their final concern-logistics. Activation of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade Logistic Support Group on 19 April created a headquarters element and three logistic support units, capable of providing highly specialized logistical support. Everyone in the task force quickly realized the value of this type of supply support as they faced seemingly endless numbers of starving, destitute refugees.26
Supply matters took on an added meaning as the task force attempted to provide for thousands of un-planned additions to its ranks. Faced with the threat of a hostile group of evacuees much like those encountered during the evacuation of Da Nang, the 9th MAB staff also had to develop some appropriate rules of conduct to guarantee protection of its own people while still avoiding injury to those it sought to help.
The 9th MAB adopted rules of engagement which restricted but did not restrain the Marines' application of force. To achieve this, the brigade wrote rules which directed the commander to use the minimum amount of force, and empowered him, if the situation dictated, to increase it. With the adoption and
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