Army Intelligence, this may seem like an “Oxymoron” using these two words in the same sentence!
Army Intelligence is a series of verifications of intelligence reports. Vietnam Reconnaissance units were responsible for the intelligence verification process. Missions were given to various Vietnam reconnaissance units within sectors of responsibility, based on “Army Intelligence Reports”
These “Intelligence Reports” were gathered from dubious sources.
Sometimes it was captured lower level VC (Vietcong) or an informer. The information needed to be checked out for accuracy.
Since we were a very mobile unit by design, created the least amount of visibility, during movement into our primary sectors Hau Nghia and Tay Ninh Provinces. Our Army Reconnaissance Unit was usually given the missions for intelligence verification duties within these provinces.
One of the key factors of working in the same area you became aware of the danger spots. Although Charlie (Vietcong) had to stay on the move or hide when we were working an area. The VC and NVA (North Vietnamese Army) communication methods were well established. Most times they had no radios to communicate we were sweeping an area. They used local villagers or farmers to send verbal messages. Stopping the locals movement and asking them questions was one of the disruptive methods we employed.
Looking at rice supplies within a hamlet or village also was an indicator of enemy build-up. When moving through an area, our recon unit made a note of the number of young men in the community or hamlet. That gave us an indication of the community involvement in the war effort.
In the hamlets we usually found women, children and old men. This made younger men stick out. They were usually questioned a bit more. During our missions many times we had an interpreter with us. Personally, I never trusted that guy! I felt like he was playing both sides for personal gain.
Some missions assigned were to confirm enemy movement. That meant you were looking for a large force of NVA troops and maybe some local VC (Vietcong) mixed in with them. Either way you were going to be out numbered.
Depending on your Platoon leader, your mission could be a surprise. The Platoon leader usually briefed you before the mission to give you a heads-up on length of mission, time and objective. If the Platoon leader didn’t want you to know the danger level of the mission, SURPRISE, you were in deep stuff!
That happened a few times with one gung-ho lieutenant who wanted to be promoted and move up. He was looking to make a name quickly at our expense. Thankfully his brashness also meant he wasn’t personally careful. A pig tripped a booby trap he was hit in the but and we never seen him again!
The Army Intelligence missions could include: information verification, location information, personal targets to contain information leaks, ammo caches, listening posts, random sweeps, verification of arial sightings and much more.
Since our reconnaissance unit was stationed along the Cambodian border within one of the least secure areas in South Vietnam we didn’t lack for mission assignments.
A big salute to those that doing “Special Operations.” Vietnam was our training ground and many of the techniques used today came from our wet soaked feet laying the ground work. We were the 25th Infantry Division “Wolfhounds” Reconnaissance Group stationed in Bao Trai, Hau Nghia Province and the “Sugar Mill” Duc Hue, Vietnam.