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8TH BATTALION (175MM) (SP) 4TH ARTILLERY (WD3H)
1 February 1968
|SUBJECT:||Operational Report for Quarterly Period Ending 31 January 1968|
|Reports Control Symbol CSFOR-65 (U)|
|108th Artillery Group|
SECTION I. SIGNIFICANT UNIT ACTIVITIES
1. (U) General.
a. The 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery, arrived in country 12 August 1967. The battalion has been continually engaged in combat operations since 15 August 1967.
b. This is the Second Operational Report - Lessons Learned submitted by this organization.
c. On 1 November 1967, Battery C, 2nd TAB, 26th Artillery, was attached to this battalion for purposes of administration. Operational control was retained by the 108th artillery Group. The activities and data concerning this battery are reported herein.
d. Organization (see inclosure 1).
a. Deployment and status of the 8th Battalion, 4tn Artillery, and its subordinate elements at the beginning of the reporting period (1 November 1967) was as follows:
UNIT LOCATION MISSION AND STATUS 8/4 Arty(-) . Gd 3rd Mar Div, OPCON 12th Mar Regt H/8/4 YD223587 (Dong Ha) . A/8/4 YD208596 (Dong Ha) . C/8/4 YD221589 (Dong Ha) . SVC/8/4 YD224586 (Dong Ha) . B/8/4 . 1ST Mar Div, OPCON 11th Mar Regt
b. On 26 November 1967, B Battery displaced one gun from AT986672 to T994723 to fire 60 rounds at an intelligence target described as an NVA storage area. The mission was completed and the gun returned to its original position the same day.
c. On 1 December 1967, the battalion less B Battery came under the operational control of the recently deployed 108th Field Artillery Group. The battalion remained in general support of the 3rd Marine Division with the added mission of reinforcing the 12th Marine Regiment. The mission and status of B Battery remained unchanged.
d. On 2 December 1967, B Battery displaced one gun to AT994723 to provide fire support for a reconnaissance insert. The gun returned to its original position on 4 December 1967.
e. On 16 December 1967, a platoon (2 guns) from C Battery displaced to YD146616 (Cam Lo) in the first of a series of moves to deploy the 175mm batteries from Dong Ha into "Dye-Marker" positions. The platoon was co-located with the Battery Headquarters and one firing platoon of the lst 8" Howitzer Battery (USMC). On 28 December 1967, the C Battery platoon was replaced by a platoon from A Battery. The C Battery guns returned to their original position at Dong Ha.
f. On 4 January 1968, C Battery displaced from Dong Ha to a newly constructed "Dye-Marker" position at YD210674 (C1). MCB 121 began construction of this position, consisting of 25 underground bunkers and 4 gun pads, in mid-November 1967. Although hampered initially by extremely muddy conditions, work progressed rapidly during the last two weeks of December with the advent of dryer weather. Basic construction was completed on the day the position was occupied.
g. On 8 January 1968, the remainder of A Battery displaced from Dong Ha to Cam Lo, co-locating the entire battery with the 1st 8" Howitzer Battery.
h. On 14 January 1968, B Battery displaced 5000 meters north from AT986672 to AT985719. This move was occasioned by a northward shift in the 1st Marine Division TAOR.
i. Because of an increased NVA threat to the Khe Sanh area, A Battery was displaced to YD058543 (Camp J.J. Carroll) on 16 January 1968 and placed under the operational control of the 2nd Battalion, 94th artillery. In addition, one gun section from C Battery was directly attached to C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 94th artillery, and displaced to YD063548 (also Camp Carroll) on 17 January 1968. This status is expected to continue until the threat to Khe Sanh has diminished.
j. During this reporting period, A and C Batteries fired 22,303 rounds in support of 3rd Marine Division operations and an additional 1,051 rounds in support of ARVN forces. 21,2754 of these rounds were fired in and north of the Demilitarized zone. B Battery fired 9,129 rounds in support of 1st Marine Division operations during this same period. The battalion fired its 50,000th round in combat on 8 January 1968. (See inclosure 2.)
k. Of the 6,545 missions fired by units of this battalion, only 362 (6%) were observed. Approximately one-quarter of the observed missions were registrations.
1. The ability of the battalion to conduct more frequent and timely registrations has been greatly increased by the use of counter-mortar and counter-battery radar in place of aerial observers. Mean point of impact registrations using the AN/MPQ-4 or AN/MPQ-10A as the means of observation provide the following advantages:(1) More accurate data with less expenditure of ammunition.
(2) Surveyed registration points not required.
(3) More frequently available-than observers.
(4) Can be prearranged for an exact time (making it easier to obtain a concurrent metro message).
(5) Less dependent on weather conditions.
(6) Less vulnerable to enemy ground fire (especially when registration points are located in and north of the DMZ) than observers.
m. The M18 Field Artillery Direction Computer (FADAC) was issued to the battalion FDC and each battery FDC on 23 November 1967. Conversion to this system of FDC operation was initially delayed because of difficulties in reconciling machine data with that computed manually for extreme ranges of zone 2 and zone 3 firing. These problems were cleared up during a visit by CPT Donald Davis, USMC, a member of the F.D.C. assistance Team, Pacific, and the computer is now being successfully employed throughout the battalion.
n. C Battery, 2nd TAB, 26th Artillery.(1) This battery, organized under MPOE 6-577E, was alerted on 29 September 1967 for TCS movement to Vietnam by Letter Order Number 3731, Headquarters, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, dated 4 October 1967. The battery is scheduled to return to Fort Bragg and its parent unit upon completion of its mission.
(2) The battery trained, equipped, and packed for movement in two weeks.
(3) An Advance party of battalion and battery personnel departed Fort Bragg by air 7 October 1967.
(4) The main body of battery personnel and equipment were air lifted from Fort Bragg directly to Da Nang, RVN from 16 October to 28 October 1967, utilizing a total of 17 C-130 and C-133 aircraft.
(5) As elements of the battery arrived, they were moved to a staging area established, at Red Beach, just north of Da Nang. The two weeks spent at this location were used to process equipment, procure additional supplies, and conduct environmental training for personnel.
(6) On 27 October 1967, an advance party of 60 men proceeded to Dong Ha by overland convoy to begin construction of a permanent base camp. The remainder of the battery arrived in Dong Ha on 5 November 1967.
(7) The sound ranging platoon was deployed to Gio Linh and Con Thien where two-second sound bases utilizing GR-8 sound ranging sets were placed in operation on 4 November and 12 November 1967 respectively. Major difficulties have been encountered in keeping the wire lines for this equipment operational. Twenty miles of UD-1 wire have been used at Con Thien and over ten miles at Gio Linh. One microphone was destroyed by friendly forces who thought it was a mine, and two have been removed by the enemy (one of those was subsequently recovered).
(8) Between 4 November and 17 December 1967, the flash ranging platoon established four permanent flash observation posts (towers) at Dong Ha, two at Con Thien, and one each at Gio Linh and Cua Viet. These observation posts are operated on a 24 hour-a-day basis.
(9) The two AN/MPQ 10-A counter-battery radars of the radar platoon became operational at Con Thien on 22 November 1967 and at Cl on 14 December 1967. The radar at C1 was relocated at Gio Linh on 3 January 1968. Because of technical shortcomings inherent in the equipment and the severe shortage of critical spare parts, the radars have been inoperative approximately 30 percent of the time.
(10) On 4 November 1967, the battery processing section was integrated into the 12th Marine Regiment Counterbattery Intelligence Center and co-located, under the supervision of the S2, with the Regimental FDC.
3. (U) Training.
a. 157 hours of training have been conducted by the battalion during this quarter. In addition to subjects specified in USL1(V Reg 350-1, the following areas have been stressed:(1) Maintenance.
(2) Team drill (with emphasis on FDC and gun crews).
(3) Shell crater analysis.
(4) Weapons familiarization (conducted monthly).
(5) Orientation of replacement personnel.
b. In November 1967, seven personnel from the battalion attended a one-week course on the operation and maintenance of the M18 Gun Direction Computer (FADAC). Additional OJT is conducted daily in each FDC.
c. In November 967, the battalion began conducting two hours of training each week or officers and senior NC0s. The subjects primarily cover administration, maintenance, small arms, firing battery and FDC procedures.
a. Weather and terrain. Weather conditions during this period have generally been milder than expected during the monsoon season, with winds from the east and northeast and temperature ranging from the mid-50's to the low 80's. Rainfall, while averaging 3.7 inches per week (and going as high as 6.6 inches), did not reach the proportions expected during the monsoon season. It was, however, sufficient to turn roads and firing positions into a sea of mud, overly hampering resupply operations and creating extremely hazardous firing conditions, especially in those positions where gun platforms were not available for the M107. Although the ground has been slow to dry, a sharp decrease in rainfall since the middle of December has resulted in generally improved operating conditions (see incl. 3).
b. Observation.(1) 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery, air observers flew 250 hours for the 12th Marine Regiment during this quarter.
(2) Battalion ground forward observers were not used in conjunction with 1st or 3rd Marine Division operations. Forward observer teams accompanied ARVN forces in the DMZ area on four operations lasting from six hours to five days.
c. Meteorology.(1) The battalion meteorological section continued, to develop three MTO and Computer meteorological messages daily (at 0800, 1400, and 2000 hours).
(2) The number of lines in each computer metro message was increased from 9 to 17 in December 1967 to provide more accurate data for F.D.C. operations. Also mets were increased from 10 to 11 lines.
(3) In addition to this battalion, the meteorological section provides data on a regular basis for the following units:(b) 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines
©) 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines
(d) 4th Battalion, 2th Marines
(e) 1st Battalion, 40th Artillery (108th Artillery Group)
(f) 2nd Battalion, 19th Artillery (1st Cava1y Division)
d. Enemy action.(1) At 0400 hours, 14 December 1967, an enemy sapper was spotted trying to get through B Battery's perimeter wire at AT986672 when the perimeter lights were turned on for a periodic check. The sapper withdrew and escaped before he could be effectively taken under fire.
(2) At 0220 hours, 21 December 1967, B Battery's position at AT986672 was hit with approximately 30 82mm mortar rounds. Three men were wounded and 175mm gun and two M546 cargo carriers were slightly damaged.
(3) At 1335 hours the same day, an M548 cargo carrier from B Battery was destroyed when it hit a mine at the entrance to the base camp area. Two men in the vehicle received minor injuries.
(4) At 1500 hours, 24 January 1968, two vehicles from A Battery (1/2-Ton truck and 2 1/2-Ton truck) carrying 10 men, accompanied by three Marine vehicles, encountered an estimated company size force of NVA approximately 3000 meters west of Cam L on Route 9. In the ensuing engagement, which lasted 4 ˝ hours, A Battery personnel sustained minor wounds. The 2 1/2-Ton truck was destroyed. Relief forces arrived on the scene at approximately 1700 hours. All personnel were evacuated from the area by 1930 hours. This engagement marked the first time that any elements of the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery, have come in direct contact with enemy ground forces since the battalion arrived in RVN. Although initially outnumbered and outgunned, personnel reacted quickly and calmly. Battery personnel accounted for at least three of an estimated 15 enemy KIA.
(5) At 1955 hours, 31 January 1968, two unidentified jet aircraft dropped eight bombs on Cl, narrowly missing C Battery's position and causing casualties to an adjacent ARVN unit and a nearby village. The bombs were later identified as being of U.S. manufacture.
(6) On eight other occasions during the reporting period, an undetermined number of artillery, mortar, and rocket rounds have impacted positions occupied by elements of the battalion without causing any damage.
5. Maintenance and Logistics.
a. Class I and III.(1) Class I and III resupply is made by the Marine Force Logistics Sub-Unit 1 at Dong Ha. Support has been generally excellent.
(2) An average of 23,000 gallons of Mo-gas and 21,000 gallons of diesel fuel are consumed by the battalion monthly. Delivery is provided by two organic M54A2 5-ton trucks, each mounting two 600 gallon tank and pump units. POL resupply has presented no significant problems. Fuel is delivered to each battery on a daily basis. Units are capable of storing 500 gallons of each type of fuel on site.
b. Class II and IV.(1) Class II and IV resupply (including Class II and IV repair parts) is made through Task Force Slawson (formerly Task Force "Pike") at Dong Ha. The task force is an element of the 360th General Supply Company and the 85th Maintenance Company at Da Nang.
(2) As of 31 January 1968, only 24% of TOE/TA equipment requisitions and 10% of PLL requisitions have been filled since the battalion arrived in-country. Of those filled, the average time from requisition to receipt has been 45 days on priority 12 items.
(3) As of 31 January 1968, 24% of authorized PLL items were at zero balance (44% for C Battery 2nd TAB, 26th Artillery).
(4) Of 26 repair parts requisitioned through Red Ball Express during this period, one has been received. The time from requisition to receipt for this one item was 22 days.
(5) The replacement of two vehicles (an M548 cargo carrier and an M151 1/4-ton truck) reporte4 as combat losses during this period is still pending. All previous combat loss vehicles have been replaced. The battalion is short three M151 1/4-ton trucks and one M54A2 5-ton truck evacuated because of damage due to accidents or equipment failures not attributable to combat.
(6) Difficulties in resupply of Class II and IV items are attributable to the following:(a) Extreme distance (90 miles) from direct support supply source.
(b) Loss of requisitions between the battalion and the 860th Supply Company.
©) Limited transportation facilities between Da Nang and Dong Ha.
(d) Pilferage during transportation.
(e) Damage to supplies from weather and mishandling.
(7) The battalion began sending vehicle convoys to Da Nang in November 1967 in order to overcome some of the resupply difficulties. Since November, three monthly convoys averaging seven trucks each have been made. Because of enemy activity and poor road conditions, the convoys have had to utilize sea transportation on at least one leg of each trip. These convoys have been highly successful in helping the battalion meet its supply needs. However, the five to seven days required for each round trip deprives the battalion of the normal use of these tactical vehicles for a considerable period of time.
c. Class V.(1) Because of limited facilities for storing 175mm ammunition at the Dong Ha ASP, a small capacity (800 rounds) SSP was established within the battalion base camp area by Service Battery.
(2) The battalion has experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining 175mm ammunition components in large lots. Supporting agencies have not established any system for stocking or issuing ammunition by lot number. It is not uncommon to find, as many as 20 different lots of ammunition in a battery, and single lots of more than 150 rounds on site are rare.
d. Maintenance.(1) The average deadline rate for tank-automotive equipment for this period is as follows.
8/4 Arty C/2/26 Arty Track vehicles 4.3% N/A Wheeled vehicles 3.9% 2.9%
(2) Available support maintenance has been generally satisfactory although both organizational and support repair parts are in short supply in the Dong Ha area. Battalion maintenance personnel working with support maintenance personnel have succeeded in keeping down time for artillery and vehicles at a minimum (see inclosure 4).
(3) The battalion has changed 56 175mm un tubes and 22 breech assemblies during this period.
a. On 1 November 1967, the 108th Artillery Group replaced I Field Forces Artillery as the major headquarters exercising administrative control over the battalion.
b. Strength.(1) Authorized vs. assigned since 1 November 1967:(a) 8thBattalion, 4th Artillery
Officer 32 31 31 Warrant Officer 4 4 4 Enlisted 520 498 535 Total 556 553 570
(b) Battery C, 2nd TAB 26th Artillery
Officer 10 10 9 Warrant Officer 1 1 1 Enlisted 242 234 229 Total 253 245 239
*Reduced by USARV to 8 officers, 1 warrant officer and 220 enlisted men, effective-5 January 1968.
(2) Gains vs losses since 1 November 1967(a) 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery
Gains Losses Net gain (Loss) Officer 3 3 0 Warrant Officer 0 0 0 Enlisted 186 149 37 Total 189 152 37
(b) battery C, 2nd TAB, 26th Artillery
Gains Losses* Net gain (loss) Officer 0 1 (1) Warrant Officer 0 0 0 Enlisted 2 7 (5) Total 2 8 (6)
*Does not include 1 officer and 8 released from attachment and returned to CONUS but still carried on the battery morning report.
c. Casualties since 1 November 1967.
8/4 Arty C/2/26 Arty Killed in action 0 0 Died of battle wounds 0 0 Wounded in action 7 (1 major) 3 (minor) Missing in action 0 0 Total 7 3
d. In December 1967 an enlisted infusion program with other battalions of the 108th Artillery Group Was initiated. 52 personnel were infused in December and 48 more in January. Battalion losses were replaced in all cases by personnel having less than 2 months remaining until DEROS. Beginning in February, 144 EM are scheduled to be infused with units of I Field Forces Artillery over a four-month period. In Addition 19 men will be infused with 108th Artillery Group in February. Infusion lists for 6 officers and 16 senior NCO’s were submitted to USARV Headquarters in November, but, to date, only one transfer has taken place.
e. Personnel requisitions.(1) No problems have been encountered with requisitions for lower grade personnel. Requirements for these positions have been satisfied through infusion or re-training of personnel assigned in MOS 13A10.
(2) No "fill-kill" action has been received on any of the four Section I and II requisitions submitted for NCO’s by this battalion. Similarly, no validation has been received on any of the three requisitions for officer personnel submitted to this point.
(3) Critical shortages. The battalion has been without a Battalion Motor Sergeant E7, MOS 63040, and a Battalion Supply Sergeant E7, MOS 76Y40, since November 1967. Appropriate requisition action has been taken.
f. Awards and decorations. Fifteen personnel, including two from Battery C, 2nd TAB, 26th Artillery, have been recommended for Purple Hearts during this period. Seven of these (five of which were earned prior to 1 November 1967) have been awarded to date. In addition, one air medal was awarded and a first Oak Leaf Cluster to the same Air Medal recommended.
g. The battalion initiated its out-of-country R&R program in November 19676. The following allocations have been received and used:
November 52 December 60 January 84
SECTION II - COMMANDER’S OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
PART A - Observations (Lessons Learned) PART A - Observations (Lessons Learned)
1. Personnel. None.
a. Item: Correlation between FDC data obtained by FADAC and manual computation.Discussion: Through experimentation, this battalion has found that manually computed FDC data containing registration or met plus VE corrections does not exactly agree with data obtained by FADAC in most cases. The differences in data are normally less than five mils at optimum ranges for each zone and more than five mils at the extreme ranges. FM 6-3-1. (Operation of Gun Direction Computer and Cannon Applications) does not describe or make any reference to these differences. Since manual check is required within the battalion on all FADAC data in order to preclude operator error, time is occasionally lost while wide variances in data are reconciled.
Observation: A description of the magnitude of the differences which can be expected between FDC data computed manually and by FADAC for various non-standard conditions should be included in FM 6-3-1.
Discussion: Because of the scarcity of large single lots of 175mm ammunition and the difficulties encountered in attempting to segregate and accurately keep count of numerous small lots of projectiles, the battalion conducted limited tests to determine the practicability of disregarding differences in projectile lots and using projectile weight (in squares) as the sole criteria for segregation. On two occasions, six round MPI registrations using one projectile and one powder lot were conducted with an AN/MPQ-4 radar as the primary means of observation. Following each registration, three rounds each of two additional projectile lots were fired at the same grid, still using the original propellant lot. Both tests were conducted with zone 2 at ranges of approximately 17,000 meters using a projectile weight of 2 squares. At the end of each test, range and deflection differences of the mean points of impact of each of the two additional projectile lots were compared with the mean point of impact of the registration lot, with the following results:While these tests were far from conclusive, the first test appeared to indicate that substantial differences can exist between different projectile lots of the same weight, both in range and deflection. The second test, on the other hand, appears to indicate that in certain cases, the characteristics of specific lots are similar enough that, once identified, they can be treated as one lot. Observation: The assumption that all projectile lots of the same weight are sufficiently similar to be treated as one lot should be avoided. However, if, by firing at least three additional check rounds of different lots in conjunction with a registration, it can be determined that the mean points of impact do not vary by more than a50 meters in range and 20 meters in deflection from the registering lot at optimum ranges, these lots may be combined into one lot.
________Variations in Meters______ 1st Test
____(13 Jan 68)__
____(19 Jan 68)__
Registration lot (6 rounds)   Range Deflection Range Deflection 2nd lot (3 rounds -75 R110 +25 R10 3rd lot (3 rounds -95 R170 +45 L20
3. Training and Organization: None
4. Intelligence: None
5. Logistics: None
6. Other: None
PART B - Recommendations: None
|JAMES C. BARNES, JR.|
|3-Average Rounds/Day by Week|
|4-Vehicle Non-availability Status|