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The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam

The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam: Unparalleled and Unequaled

Ira A. Hunt
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam
    Book Description:

    Of all the military assignments in Vietnam, perhaps none was more challenging than the defense of the Mekong River Delta region. Operating deep within the Viet Cong--controlled Delta, the 9th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army was charged with protecting the area and its population against Communist insurgents and ensuring the success of the South Vietnamese government's pacification program. Faced with unrelenting physical hardships, a tenacious enemy, and the region's rugged terrain, the 9th Division established strategies and quantifiable goals for completing their mission, effectively writing a blueprint for combating guerilla warfare that influenced army tacticians for decades to come.

    InThe 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam: Unparalleled and Unequaled,Ira A. Hunt Jr. details the innovative strategies of the 9th Division in their fight to overcome the Viet Cong. Based on Hunt's experience as colonel and division chief of staff, the volume documents how the 9th Division's combat effectiveness peaked in 1969. A wealth of illustrative material, including photos, maps, charts, and tables, deepens understanding of the region's hazardous environment and clarifies the circumstances of the division's failures and successes.

    A welcome addition to scholarship on the Vietnam War,The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnamwill find an audience with enthusiasts and scholars of military history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2648-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Maps and Figures
    (pp. viii-ix)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Abbreviations and Special Terms
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-3)

    In the mid-1960s, the security of the Delta, the densely populated rich rice bowl of agrarian South Vietnam, was poor and getting worse. Viet Cong (VC) insurgents were severely disrupting the commerce and welfare of this vital region. The 9th Infantry Division, the only U.S. Army division activated and trained in the United States for active duty in South Vietnam, was specifically designated to operate from a base deep within the Communist-controlled Delta with the mission to improve the security of the area so that the Government of South Vietnam’s (GVN) pacification program could be successful. Upon its arrival in...

  7. Chapter 1 Securing the Mekong Delta
    (pp. 4-11)

    The Mekong Delta was the most populated and richest agrarian area of South Vietnam, and consequently it was the primary target of Communist aggression. Viet Cong activities in the Delta were appreciably reducing the cultivation of the important rice crop and were isolating the Delta from Saigon. It became obvious that increased military actions were necessary to deny the Communists access to the Delta’s resources. It was the opinion of Gen. William Childs Westmoreland that any substantial improvement in security required the introduction of U.S. forces, and the 9th Infantry Division was activated in the States to assist in securing...

  8. Chapter 2 The General Offensive and General Uprising
    (pp. 12-21)

    In 1967, the Communists assumed that the RVNAF and Allied Forces were weak and could be defeated so they abandoned their limited offensive tactics and adopted the concept of large battles, generally conducted by main force units. Thus, the Communists changed their tactics from company- and platoon-sized or smaller operations to battles conducted with multibattalion attacks. For example, on 10 December 1967, at An Naut Tan, the 2/60 Infantry was attacked by the 2nd Independent Battalion supported by the 506th Battalion and the 5th Nha Be Battalion. Hanoi subsequently decided to implement the “General Offensive and General Uprising” plan of...

  9. Chapter 3 Enhancing Combat Capabilities
    (pp. 22-78)

    In mid-May 1968, the 9th Division found itself still responsible for a huge tactical area of responsibility that included all or parts of eight Vietnamese provinces. The division headquarters was split between Bearcat and Dong Tam, with the majority of divisional support troops and several combat battalions located at Bearcat, which was several hours by road from Dong Tam and required traveling through the built-up areas of Saigon. Also, higher headquarters had directed the division to assume several static defensive ground missions, such as defending a key signal relay site, protecting the major petroleum tank farm, and protecting highways and...

  10. Chapter 4 Pacification: The Endgame
    (pp. 79-98)

    The 9th Infantry Division was introduced in the Delta for one purpose only, to improve the security. Its mission was clear: it had to defeat the Viet Cong main and local force units and to support the pacification efforts of the GVN, thereby eliminating the Viet Cong’s intimidation of the people. Pacification then was the endgame, and the most discernable pattern in it was that programs depended entirely upon security. Consequently, the division had a dual focus—combat operations and pacification.

    In mid-1968, the war in the populated Delta of South Vietnam was a guerrilla war. The tactics of avoiding...

  11. Chapter 5 Third Phase of the VC/NVA General Offensive
    (pp. 99-110)

    At the beginning of August 1968, enemy operations were characterized by a general evasion of contact while maintaining large battalion-sized units in anticipation of a third offensive, with Saigon as the primary objective. In Long An Province—the underbelly of Saigon—enemy interdiction and guerrilla and terrorist activities were minimal, a good sign that offensive actions were imminent. Also in early August, the 1st Brigade captured a prisoner in Long An who identified his unit as the 520th Local Force Battalion from Kien Hoa Province. The displacement of a local force battalion from its home province was another indication that...

  12. Chapter 6 Fourth Phase of the VC/NVA General Offensive
    (pp. 111-115)

    The division captured an enemy document in January 1969 that indicated that the fourth phase of the General Offensive and General Uprising, the Dong Xuan, a Winter-Spring Offensive, was imminent. Its objectives were to annihilate 60 percent of the enemy troops and destroy 50 percent of the enemy outposts; liberate the rural areas and attack the enemy lines of communication; and liberate half of the district seats and provincial capitals and destroy the remaining half so that they could eventually control them all. In fact, a Viet Cong supply convoy was interdicted in Kien Phong Province on 13 January, a...

  13. Chapter 7 The Take-off
    (pp. 116-136)

    By the end of the first quarter in 1969, the effectiveness of combat operations had peaked, preempting Communist efforts. The brave soldiers of the division displayed extraordinary heroism in conducting more than one hundred offensive operations daily, half of which were at night, in the extremely difficult and treacherous booby-trapped terrain; this resulted in over thirty contacts per day, eliminating thousands of Viet Cong. Almost all of the contacts were minor skirmishes, keeping a constant pressure on the evading enemy. However, during this exploratory period there were five major battles, which severely punished the Viet Cong and NVA main force...

  14. Chapter 8 Post–Dong Xuan Operations
    (pp. 137-140)

    The aggressive actions of the RVNAF and the 9th Division in the Delta and U.S. forces and our Allies elsewhere in South Vietnam forced the Communist leaders to abort their Winter-Spring Offensive. Yet, the dispersed and elusive Viet Cong and NVA units that remained in the Upper Delta still had a limited capability to attack population centers and military installations if they were permitted to concentrate forces. We saw how, after the beating they took in the February 1968 Tet Offensive, the Viet Cong were able to mass and attack Saigon again in May. Even after the Mini-Tet losses, they...

  15. Chapter 9 Pacification Results
    (pp. 141-146)

    The endgame was pacification, and the success of the 9th Division can be measured by not only its combat results but also the improvements of the GVN pacification program. Of great importance was that the GVN won the “rice war.” The improved security prevented the Viet Cong from appropriating appreciable supplies, and, after the major disruption of the Communist General Offensive in 1968, agricultural production improved from a low point of 84 percent of the index based upon the 1961–1965 period to 94 percent in 1969 and 103 percent in 1970. The rice output in the Delta continued to...

  16. Chapter 10 A Total Division Effort
    (pp. 147-149)

    This discussion has focused primarily on the combat capabilities of infantrymen and their direct support organizations: the artillery, air cavalry, assault helicopters, Air Force, and Navy. Many other units not specifically mentioned—such as the 45th Infantry Platoon (Scout Dog), the 65th Infantry Platoon (Combat Tracker), the Air Cushion Vehicle Platoon, the 1097th Transportation Company (Medium Boat), and the 15th Engineer Combat Battalion—also participated in ferreting out and destroying the enemy.

    For example, on 26 April, while en route to conduct a cordon and search operation, B/2-47 Infantry received very heavy fire from a large enemy unit which was...

  17. Chapter 11 The Division Rotates Home
    (pp. 150-156)

    In June, the 9th Division received word that it was to rotate to the United States, and units began to prepare to stand down. The 2nd Brigade terminated operations on 4 July; the 1st Brigade on 23 July; and on 26 July, the 3rd Brigade went under operational control of II Field Force, Vietnam.

    From its entry into the Mekong Delta in February 1967 until July 1969, the 9th Infantry Division had been an effective fighting unit developing tactics and techniques, from riverine to Night Search operations, to meet the ever-changing Viet Cong and NVA initiatives. The 9th Division soldiers...

  18. Appendix A. 9th Infantry Division and Assigned and Attached Units, 1969
    (pp. 157-158)
  19. Appendix B. 9th Infantry Division Task Organization, January–April 1969
    (pp. 159-159)
  20. Appendix C. The Story of a Booby-Trap Casualty
    (pp. 160-163)
  21. Appendix D. Prisoner Phan Xuan Quy: Biographical Information and Thanh Phu Battle Account
    (pp. 164-174)
  22. Appendix E. Reflection of a Prisoner
    (pp. 175-176)
  23. Notes
    (pp. 177-180)
  24. Index
    (pp. 181-196)