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DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
8TH BATTALION (17MM/8 Inch) (SP), 4TH ARTILLERY
APO San Francisco 96269
12 November 1971
|SUBJECT:||Operational Report Lessons - Learned, Headquarters, 8th Battalion 4th Artillery, Period ending 31 October 1971 (RCS CS FOR-65(R2) (U)|
1. (C) Operations: Significant Activities
A. (U) General
(1). The 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery arrived in the Republic of Viet Nam on 12 August 1967 and has been continuously engaged in combat operations since 15 August 1967.
(2) This is the fifteenth 0porational Report submitted by this organization.
(5) Organizational list and structure are attached as Inclosure
B. (C) Historical Data(1) Deployment and status of the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery and its batteries at the beginning of the reporting period (1 May 1971) were as follows:
UNIT LOCATION MISSION STATUS 8/4 Artillery GS - XX1V Corps GSR-5th Battalion, 4th Artillery GSR - 1st ARVN Div Artillery (off 25 July 71) HHB 8/4 Artillery YD223587
A 8/4 Artillery YD132641
B 8/4 Artillery YD062545
C 8/4 Artillery YDl19699
(2) On 24140O00 May 1971, Col Bruce Holbrcok, 108th Artillery Group Commander and Col Hy, Division Artillery Commander for the 1st ARVN Division, fired the 400,000th round from B Battery's number 3 piece from its location at Camp Carroll.
(3) On 12-16 June 1971, B Battery conducted a 5 day artillery raid to a position 4 kilometers south of Hai Loc.
(4) On 10 July 1971, B Battery, 6th Battalion, 32nd Artillery was attached to the battalion and moved from its location near Phan Rang. by LST and road convoy to a field location near Cam Lo in Northern Military Region I.
(5) On 16 July 1971, C Battery moved from FSB A-4 to FSB C-2.
(6) On 19 July 1971, B/6/32 moved from its field location to Camp Carroll.
(7) On 1 August 1971, the battalion received orders attaching 8 Radar Detachments and assigning 4 Integrated Observation Systems, and a Processing Section. These elements had been operated by F Battery, 26th Artillery, but were attached and assigned to the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery when F Battery, 26th Artillery stood down.
(8) On 3 August 1971, A Battery (4 x 8" Howitzers) moved from C-2 to Dong Ha Combat Base due to a reduction of forces and perimeters on their fire bases. Several fire bases in the area were forced to decrease their perimeters when the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division stood down and the fire bases come under the control of the ARVN, who had fewer personnel with which to provide security. While at Dong Ha Combat Base, the battery was retubed to four 175mm guns.
(9) On 10 August 1971, the Battalion Commander, LTC H. Max Love, relinquished his command to LTC Richard H. Sugg.
(10) On 15-16 August 1971, 3 batteries fired in the defense of Vietnamese Marine Corps troops on Hui Ba Ho outpost which received repeated ground attacks.
(11) On 15 August 1971, C Battery moved 2 X 8" Howitzers from FSB C-1 to Camp Carroll to assist in the defense of VNMC outposts to the south.
(12) On 18 August 1971, A Battery moved 2 X 175mm guns from Dong Ha Combat Base to a raid position near Cam Lo and expended 200 X 175 rounds.
(13) On 23 August 1971, A Battery moved from Dong Ha Combat Base to a raid position near Can Lo and expended 190 X 175mm rounds on known enemy locations.
(14) On 28 August 1971, the two 8" Howitzers from C Battery which were located at Camp Carroll returned to FSB C-1.
(15) On 5 September 1971, C Battery moved to Dong Ha Combat Base and on 6 September moved to a field position near Camp Carroll to support insertions that marked the beginning of Lam Son 810. After firing LZ preparations in the morning, the battery moved westward and occupied FSB Elliot (XD 983546) which is located near the Rockpile.
(16) On 15 September 1971, A Battery moved from Dong Ha Combat Base to FSB Gunner near Camp Carroll to support operations near Khe Sanh. The battery returned to Dong Ha before nightfall.
(17) On 19 September 1971, C Battery moved from FSB Elliot to FSB C-1 as Lam Son 810 came to a close.
(18) On 202359 September 1971, B Battery, 6th Battalion, 32nd Artillery fired its last round. The battery then moved from FSB JJ Carroll to Gia Le, RVN and conducted a stand down ceremony on 25 September 1971. The battery guidon was furled and returned to Phan Rang, where the battalion headquarters was located, and subsequently were returned to CONUS along with its battalion colors.
(19) On 22 September 1971, A Battery moved from Dong Ha Combat Base to Camp Carroll to occupy the position vacated by B/6/32.
(20) On 24 September 1971, the Battalion Headquarters, with Headquarters and Service Batteries, moved from Dong Ha Combat Base to the area vacated by the 18th Surgical Hospital at Quang Tri Combat Base.
(21) On 1615 hrs 27 September 1971, LTC Richard H. Sugg fired the 450,000th round for the battalion. It was fired by C/8/4 located at FSB C-1 on troops in the open in the DMZ.
(22) On 13 0ctober 1971. B Battery moved from Camp Carroll to Quang Tri Combat Base.
(25) On 14 October 1971, C Battery moved from FSB C-1 to Quang Tri Combat Base.
(24) On 1500 hrs 14 October 1971, BG Koch, the XXIV Corps artillery Commander fired the ceremonial last round for the battalion. It was fired by A Battery at a known rocket location in the DMZ.
(25) On 0930 hrs 15 October 1971, the battalion conducted a stand down ceremony at Quang Tri Combat Base. The Battalion Colors were furled and cased for redeployment to Ft. Sill, 0klahoma. As of 0001 hrs 15 October 1971, the Battalion terminated its tactical mission in RVN and began turning its attention to accomplishing the functions necessary for stranding down.
(26) On 15 October 1971, SV Battery moved from Quang Tri to Phu Bai Combat Base.
(27) On 18 0ctobor 1971, B Battery moved from Quang Tri to Phu Bai.
(28) On 20 October 1971, C Battery moved from Quang Tri to Phu Bai.
(29) On 22 0ctober 1971, HHB and A Battery moved from Quang Tri to Phu Bai. All batteries remained at that location until 15 November, at which point the stand down was complete and on 17 November the colors will leave for Ft. Sill, where at a future date another battalion will be redesignated the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery.
(30) During the reporting period, this battalion and its units came under fire on 220 separate occasions.
(31) During the reporting period, this battalion accounted for 356 bunkers destroyed and 437 secondary explosions and was credited with 72 confirmed enemy KIA and 168 Possible KIA.
(32) Missions and rounds fired during the reporting period:
BATTERY MAY JUNE JULY AUG SEP OCT A 8/4 552 Missions
B 8/4 586 Missions
C 8/4 362 Missions
B 6/32 N/A Missions
TOTAL 1500 Missions
(33) The cumulative total of rounds fired by this battalion since its arrival in country through 142400 0ctober 1971 was 454,128.
(34) Deployment and status of the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery and its batteries at the end of the reporting period were as follows:
UNIT LOCATION MISSION AND STATUS 8/4 Artillery No tactical mission HHB 8/4 Artillery XD 884136
SVC 8/4 Artillery XD 884136 (Phu Bai) A 8/4 Artillery XD 884136 (Phu Bai B 8/4 Artillery XD 884136 (Phu Bai) C 8/4 Artillery XD 884136 (Phu Bai)
C. (U) Training: During the reporting period, the Battalion was released from its commitment to conduct XXIV Corps Forward Observer, Fire Direction Officer, and Chief of Section schools. Because of the lack of replacement artillerymen, individual training was turned back to the respective battalions of the lO8th Artillery Group. In addition, the ARVN training program for heavy artillery, which had originally been assigned to this battalion was transferred to a sister battalion, the 1st Battalion, 39th Artillery since the beginning of the training program coincided with this battalion's deployment in support of Lam Son 719. The 1st Battalion, 39th Artillery which was located, at fire support bases to the south, moved into the area vacated by this battalion upon its movement westward and assumed our mission. At the conclusion of Lam Son 719, they moved back to their previous locations and retained their training mission.
D. (U) Observation and Target Acquisition: During this period the battalion was assigned and operated four Integrated Observation Systems and had opcon of a fifth section. Also, eight radars were attached to the battalion. Data from all thirteen sources was sent to a processing section located in the Battalion Headquarters area. The battalion provided liaison teams to the 1st ARVN Infantry Division (Forward); the 1st Brigade, 5th (Mechanized) Division; the 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry; the 258th Vietnamese Marine Brigade; and the 2nd ARVN Regiment. Four Forward Observer teams were also provided to 3/5 Cavalry and an Observation Post was maintained by battalion personnel at OP Hickory.
E. (C) Logistics: During the reporting period three batteries completed four separate moves to new fire bases which necessitated varying degrees of reconstuction. Most significant was A Battery's move to Dong Ha Combat Base where the position was extremely deteriorated. The major problem faced was the back hauling of Class V and barrier/ protective material. The shortage of vehicles and local moving vehicles hampered operations. A direct hit by a 122mm rocket on a FSB C-2 bunker brought to light existing deficiencies in bunker construction and caused a careful evaluation to be made of all existing bunkers. A survey was made to determine which bunkers, if any, could withstand a direct hit by an enemy rocket. The inspection slowed that most of the bunkers were constructed of sandbags on top of a wooden frame and would not stop a direct hit from penetrating into the living area. Plans were immediately made to put "bursrster caps" of concrete on all bunkers that did not presently have them. In addition, RPG screening was to be affixed to stand-off posts in a manner that would allow the screen to be approximately 8 to 10 feet above the roof of the bunker. This would provide a means of detonating the rocket before it struck the bunker thereby reducing the effect of the explosion on the structure itself.
Engineer assistance was requested, but due to the lack of materials only FSBs A-4 and C-2 were able to have all bunkers capped.
Also, during this time frame, B Battery's mess hall burned down and, approximately 30 days later, the temporary structure that was being used to cook in and serve from was also destroyed by fire. Engineer support was requested, and the new mess hall that was built was the only structure at Camp Carroll to receive a burster cap.
F. (U) Personnel and Administration: Assigned strength throughout the reporting period was less than authorized. Normal DEROS's and shortages of EM replacements caused specific MOS problems. The individual batteries provided OJT in critical MOS's such as 13E40, 13B30, 63C20, and 63B20.
2. Lessons Learned: Commanders Observations, Evaluations, and Recommendations.
A. (U) Personnel:(1) Observation: At certain times there appeared to be a tremendous influx of NC0's and a stop in the flow of lower grade EM's. At other times the situation was reversed.
(2) Evaluation: The monthly report of needed personnel is forwarded to HQ USARV for action. Personnel by grade and MOS are then programmed for and assigned to this unit to fill these slots. Personnel have been lost to intermediate headquarters for other duties and no replacement arrived at the ultimate unit of assignment. No further check was made to insure that the assigned person reaches the unit.
(3) Recommendation: More stringent controls should be placed on replacements to preclude their being taken from the reassignment stream. If necessary, HQ USARV Should assign a person directly to a battalion sized unit.
B. (C) Intelligence(1) Observation: Targets provided by "Usually Reliable Sources" proved to be a valuable source of targeting; however, a great deal of time was lost in getting such targets fired.
(2) Evaluation: Whenever a target of any nature was located, the grid had to be submitted for clearance. Valuable time was thus lest prior to firing.
(3) Recommendation: "Usually Reliable Source" (URS) targets should be passed on a quick fire channel with expedited clearances to insure prompt firing. Personnel working with clearances at all levels should be instructed as to the nature and credibility of such targets, and of the need for rapid processing.
C. (C) Operations:(1) Observation: Close coordination between air and artillery is vital in close combat and prevents the wasting of assets, During the siege of Fire Support Base Fuller, armillary assets were wasted.
(2) Evaluation: During the siege of FSB Fuller there was a lack of fire power coordination. Artillery was check fired within a 5 kilometer radius of FSB Fuller so that aircraft could maneuver about freely. Due to the lack of an FCL and a tendency to utilize only aircraft for fire support, any contribution the artillery might have made in the defense of FSB Fuller was completely neutralized. The 8" firecracker projectile could have been very effectively employed against enemy forces with a greater killing effect than the ordnance of the aircraft for which it was check fired.
(3) Recommendation: Fire coordination lines should be developed for all fire support bases and incorporated into each overall defense plan. All higher headquarters and supporting units should be aware of the predetermined FCL's in effect for each area. The FCL's can be adjusted as the individual situation develops to permit simultaneous employment of artillery, aircraft and any other fire support capabilities.
D. (U) Organization:(1) Observation: Current T0&E authorizes 112 EM and 6 officers per firing battery. This is not sufficient to operate all sections on a continuous 24 hour a day basis.
(2) Evaluation: The T0&E authorizes 4 enlisted personnel in the FDC for manual operations. Two of those are chart operators and two are computers. If the check chart and check computer system are used, these 4 persons are the minimum necessary to man one shift, and to operate indefinitely, two alternating shifts are œ required.
(3) Recommendation: The TO&E be changed to reflect the additional 4 persons needed in the FDC for continuous operation.
E. (U) Training: None.
F. (C) Logistics:(1) Fork lift requirements:(a) Observation: Battery ammunition sections experienced great difficulty in manually transporting and trundling the large amounts of heavy artillery ammunition required for sustained high rates of expenditures.
(b) Evaluation: Heavy artillery ammunition is shipped to ASP's and issued in palletized loads. Fork lifts are utilized to load and unload this ammunition at the ASP. This battalion had available to it, two fork lifts which were used to the best possible advantage to move this palletized ammo. These fork lifts proved themselves invaluable and expedited resupply operations.
(c) Recommendations: Each firing battery and the battalion ammunition section be issued a fork lift as one of their basic vehicles.
(2) Engineer Support:(a) Observation: During several operations in which this battalion participated, firing elements displaced to field positions and were shortly thereafter attacked by indirect fire weapons. In addition, building of berms and bunkers for protection of equipment, ammunition, and personnel were dependent upon the availability of engineer support which was minimal.
(b) Evaluation: Storage of exposed ammunition on the ground presents a great hazard to artillery units when subjected to indirect fire attacks. Immediate construction of bunkers was often delayed due to the lack of engineer support and/or the length of time necessary to fabricate by manual means structures of the size necessary to protect heavy artillery ammunition.
(c) Recommendation : A heavy artillery battalion be provided immediate engineer support with bulldozer for use in constructing, improving, and maintaining field positions.
(3) Heavy Recovery Vehicle:(a) Observation: This battalion on many of its field operations suffered from the lack of a suitable recovery vehicle.
(b) Evaluation: To return guns to an operational status rapidly, an adequate tracked vehicle retriever is needed. Frequently, this battalion had to request its Direct Support Unit for assistance in the form of its M88. In addition, the M578 uses the same carriage as the M107 and the M110 and suffers from the same problems, as discussed later in this 0RLL.
(c) Recommendation: A heavy artillery battalion be issued an M88 tracked recovery vehicle instead of the M578.
(4) Barrier Material:(a) Observation: This battalion, operating in a mobile environment, redeployed frequently on artillery raid and field operations.
(b) Evaluation: Due to the short advanced notice given, it is often difficult to have enough barrier material, i.e. sandbags, culvert, perforated steel plating, wooden beams, and membrane available for rapid deployment to a field location.
(c) Recommendation: Enough barrier material should bo maintained By the Battalion S-4 to sustain two field positions simultaneously. As a minimum the following items should be maintained:
Pieces 5' diameter culvert
6"X6"X12' wooden beams
55 gallon drums w/top cut off
14'X14' pieces membrane
G. (C) Communications:(1) Observation: In most cases, communications equipment and procedures proved satisfactory. However, frequency override and duplication caused many problems.
(2) Evaluation: When working in a communications environment shared by units of two other allied nations, plus three other branches of service, an accurate centralized system needs to be devised for allocating frequencies to using units. When dealing with classified frequencies and when using Signal 0perating Instructions that change daily or monthly, problems are bound to exist.
(3) Recommendation: A more centralized control of frequency allocations should be established. Quick reaction channels should be established to provide quick frequency changes when problems do occur.
(4) Contact Teams:(a) Observations: The remoteness of the fire support bases creates a problem of response time and distance for the supply of repair parts and the inspection and evaluation of equipment shortcomings and failures by Direct Support Units.
(b) Evaluation: In many cases the availability of DSU personnel at fire support bases would enhance trouble shooting and provide a quick solution to problems. If those individuals had a readily available PLL of DSU parts, a great deal of down-time could be avoided.
(c) Recommendation: A contact team be located at each heavy artillery position and be provided with an adequate supply of DS repair parts.
(2) Ml10 and M107:(a) Observation: Maintenance requirements for heavy artillery are great, but even when proper maintenance schedules and procedures are adhered to, certain problems continually reoccur.
(b) Evaluation: On the M107 and Ml10, the cooling system suffers from clutter design in that many items seem to have been installed with no prior planning. The fan-tower assembly has a restricted space for exhausting. Due to the dusty conditions in Viet Nam, the fan-tower, in drawing in cooling air, draws air which is contaminated or impregnated with dust, oil and/or water saturated particles through the radiator. This dust adheres to the surface of the cooling tubing and vanes and eventually dries and cakes its surface. As time passes, surface dust builds and restricts the normal passage of air and causes overheating problems.
The rear wheel hub assemblies have experienced repeated shearing of the lugs. The lugs which attached the rear road wheel are not designed for the amount of shear force developed in this component. This unit experienced failures of this type on its weapons on nearly every move it has made. The lug itself appears to be an aluminum alloy, when it should be of a material with a greater capacity to prevent shearing ox of a different design to provide additional lugs on the road wheel.
Vibration of the tracks causes bolts to loosen and eventually shear at the counter balance bracket, engine mounting plate, transfer case, power take off for the auxiliary drive, and the elevating traversing assemblies. A possible corrective action would be to lace these particular bolts.
The spade cylinder, hoses, and fitting assemblies have the most repeated failures. This item seems to be the weakest component of the entire hydraulic system. Fittings have been a source of continual failings when the spade is raised to be locked in the traveling position. Insufficient clearance between the spade cylinder and the fitting causes broken fittings. Many components are located in positions which are extremely difficult to reach when making repairs or replacing assemblies. Several of these components are the voltage regulator, rectifier, and accumulator.
(c) Recommendation: The large number of problems encountered in maintaining the M107 and M110 indicates that a major redesign of a self-propelled carriage for this gun should be initiated to provide a more reliable carriage assembly.
I. (U) Medical:(1) Safety:(a) Observation: Even though only one death in the battalion can be attributed to an accident, the large number of accidents that took place caused a greater amount of lost duty hours than any other single cause.
(b) Evaluation: Although injuries were caused by many sources, the majority were incident to the handling of heavy artillery projectiles, and working around the guns themselves.
(c) Recommendation: Possible suggestions for improvements are:1. Non-skid gun walk surfaces and boot soles.
2. Improved methods of noise protection and hearing conservation.
3. Issuing of safety toed boots to cannoneers.
4. Thorough familiarization of artillerymen in Advanced Individual Training with proper methods of handling and lifting heavy artillery projectiles.
(2) Malaria Prevention:(a) Observation: Even though this battalion had only 2 cases of malaria, further effort in this area is needed.
(b) Evaluation: investigation shows that a great majority of lower grade enlisted personnel do not take the chomoprophylactic agent due to real or imagined gastric intestinal side effects.
(c) Recommendation: All incoming-personnel should receive a briefing on the importance and safety of taking anti-malarial agents at unit level, and continuing emphasis should be placed on this subject by supervisory personnel. In addition, frequent unit-wide urinalysis tests for anti-malarials should bo conducted.
(3) General. Sanitation:(a) Observation: At a11 fire base locations, insect and rodent vector control problems are great.
(b) Evaluation: The large amounts of waste and refuse generated from inadequate methods of food storage create such problems.
(c) Recommendation: Measures which might aid in all of these areas are:1. Development. of rapid chemical treatment methods for human waste allowing sanitary disposal.
2. Dissemination of methods and materials for efficient incineration of burnable refuse. An example would be portable incinerators.
3. Development of new techniques of waste disposal suited to the military. One suggestion is the of compactors for refuse and wrapping in degradeable materials for sanitary handling prior to burying.
4. Use of packaging materials for food stuffs that serve as secure and sanitary storage containers to replace the card board boxes, burlap and polyethlene bags presently used.
5. Greater availability of Preventative Medicine teams and facilities to work with and provide advice to unit personnel on a routine and frequent basis.
6. More thorough and briefing to personnel in basic training on methods of personal hygiene and public health.
7. Provide modern equipment and efficient methods to Quarter Master laundry facilities to allow more thorough and rapid laundry service.
RICHARD H. SUGG LTC, FA Commanding 1 Incl Distribution: 2-USARPAC, ATTN: GPOP-DT 3-GG, USARV, ATTN: AVDII-GCT 6-CG, XXIV CORPS, ATTN: AVDII-GCT 6-C0, 108TH ARTY GP, ATTN: AVIID-C0 DA, HQ, XXIV Corps Artillery
APO San Francisco 96349
TO: Commanding General, XXIV Corps, ATTN: AVII-GCT, APO San Francisco 96349
1. (U) This headquarters has reviewed the attached Operational Report Lessons Learned for the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery and concurs with the report with the exception of paragraph 2 below.
2. (C) Nonconcur with recommendation in paragraph 2G(3), concerning a centralized control of frequency allocations. A centralized control of frequency allocation does exist in Military Region 1. MACV allocates all frequencies for Military Region I through XXIV Corps (Signal) for further allocation to using units. These are provided in MACV's Frequency Authorization Report and XXIV Corps (Signal) Frequency Plan. Alternate frequencies are provided in SOI's for any given net to provide a quick change when a frequency problem arises. XXIV Corps' Standard Signal Instructions (SSI) direct the frequency user to report all interference problems through their next higher command to the frequency manager, XXIV Corps. A frequency interference worksheet is attached at Inclosure 2 which is used in reporting frequency problems.
FOR THE COMMANDER:
ROBERT S. RILEY
AVII-GCO (12 Nov 71) 3d Ind
|SUBJECT:||Operational Report - Lessons Learned, Headquarters 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery, Period Ending 31 October 1971, RCS CSFOR-65 (R3) (U)|
DA, Headquarters, XXIV Corps, APO 96349
TO: Commanding General, United States Army, Vietnam, APO 96375
1. This headquarters has reviewed the Operational Report - Lessons Learned far the period ending 31 October 1971 from Headquarters 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery and concurs with the report except as indicated in paragraph 2 below.
2. Comments follow:
a. Reference item concerning "Personnel" page 6, paragraph 2A: Nonconcur. Normally personnel taken from the reassignment stream are for Operational requirements. To have HQ, USARV assign personnel directly to a battalion sized unit would deprive the commander of groups, separate brigades, and divisions of a command prerogative - that of assigning personnel where they can most influence the successful completion of the unit mission. Also without automatic data processing equipment at battalion level to facilitate strength accountability, HQ, USARV will not know the local personnel situation as well as the commanders mentioned above.
b. Reference item concerning "Communications," page 9, paragraph 2G: Nonconcur. In MR1, MACV has assigned primary responsibility for frequency management to XXIV Carps. Due to the large demand an FM frequencies, MR1 has been divided into three areas. Frequencies are then assigned one time per area. The number of frequencies allocated to each major unit is based upon an evaluation of the unit's requirements. Frequencies assigned major units are changed as necessary to meet new requirements, Each major unit (SOI publishing unit, i.e. division, separate brigade, group, etc.) is responsible to provide for daily, weekly, or monthly frequency charges and to respond to problems requiring immediate frequency changes. The 108th Arty Gp, senior headquarters to the 8th Bn, 4th Arty: was, assigned responsibilities of a SOI publishing unit. The channel for allocating frequencies and responding to new requirements was both short and effective when properly utilized within the limitation of frequencies available. The 108th Arty Gp ORLL made no comment on frequency management.
FOR THE COMMANDER:
JULIAN W. BRADSHAW