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06 June 2014

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Ulenspiegel

Sorry for my ignorance:

What is CCN?

What is a one-zero?

Thanks in advance.

turcopolier

ulenspiegal

"CCN" stood for "Command and Control North" This was the covername for "Task Force One" of "Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and observations Group." (MACVSOG) ot just "SOG" for short. This, in itself was a cover name for the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force (JUWTF) for South East Asia. CCN had about a thousand native troops (tribal) who were led by US Army Special Forces in cross border reconnaissance and raiding along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in eastern Laos. In that part of Laos there were very few civilians. It was a vast primeval jungle. I was so privileged as to belong to SOG in its last months and then to its successor organization "Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team - 158" (STDAT-158) This was yet another cover name for the "rump" of SOG after SOG "stood down" in 1972. STDAT-158 did the same work as SOG but with fewer assets. pl

turcopolier

ulenspiegal

A "One Zero" in SOG parlance was the American sergeant who led a SOG recon team. this was a radio procedural call sign. The other Americans in the team were "Two zero," "Three zero," etc, for however many there were. The native (usually Montagnard) Special Commando Unit (SCU) troops were numbered "Zero One," etc. In a given recon team all the SCU were of the same tribe. These men would spend up to ten days "across the fence" in Laos, Cambodia or NVN. There were usually about seven men in a recon team, but it varied according to taste. Most recon teams were named for US states, "RT Arkansas," etc. CCN had a lot of air assets for radio relay, insertion and extraction and fire support. CCN, CCC and CCS all had light infantry companies made up of US Army SF and SCU. These existed to "back up" the recon teams if they got into something "heavy." Bless them all. It was a great honor to serve with them. pl

bookwurm


Reading "One tribe at a time" made perfect sense looking over the walls of PRT Zabul/Qalat.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/opinion/call-me-ehsaan.html?_r=0

http://www.afsoc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123293009

Ulenspiegel

Thanks a lot! Just curious, what was the motivation of the Montagnards to fight the VC of fight for the USA?

The Twisted Genius

Ulenspiegel,

The Montagnards never had an affinity to the Vietnamese, North or South. Nor did the Vietnamese ever really show them any love. When the Special Forces arrived to train them to fight the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese in the Highlands, they also helped the Montagnards to defend their villages and provided medical and engineering assistance. That is just how Special Forces operates. The SF and the 'Yards developed a respectful bond that continues to this day around Fort Bragg. Colonel Lang lived this so I'm sure he could provide a more insightful answer.

Medicine Man

Interesting. I never knew there was a sizable population of Montagnards in the USA. About 2000 in North Carolina.

turcopolier

All

As TTG says I lived it. "Thieu ta, we went to choose de food" one would say while holding up a string of nice fresh rats. Yes, the various tribes of Montagnards or just "yards," hated the Vietnamese, all of them and the Vietnamese despised the "moi" (barbarians) as they called them. This all predated the arrival of Europeans in the area. The two peoples were deadly enemies. I have seen Vietnamese women nurses pull IVs out of Montagnard arms and wait around for them to die before telling the Americans. The arrival of the French in the 19th Century was greeted by the Yards as a proof that God is good. The French took on the role of protectors of the tribes, be they; Sedang, Djarai, Bahnar, S'tieng, Mnong Gar or whatever. The northern tribes were Malayo-Polynesian and the southern ones were Mon-Khmer. These two groupings were unrelated to each other. In the French War against the Viet Minh the Yards fought for the French because they did not want their oppressors and enemies to rule over them. When US SF took the place of the French we found that the older ones all spoke a delightful pidgin French and they assumed that the Green Berets would simply take up where the French had left off. The SF soldiers were very much like the Frenchmen of the GCMA (Groupements des Commandos Mixtes Aeroportees). The Montagnards did not fight FOR the US or even for SF. They fought for themselves and we helped them, trained them, led them when they wanted it, drank with them, lived with their women (not a confession), fathered children with them. Little children were brought into SF camps in the early period and grew up there. by the end of the war these children of the Green Beret were several nches taller than their parents and quite robust. Ten years of good nutrition and care by SF medics had left its marks. There is a good reason why there are so many living around Ft. Bragg. The Green Berets became their country. We SF pretty much all belonged to FULRO (Front Unis pour Liberation de la Race Oprimee) This was a subversive anti-Vietnamese society. The US theater command forbade us to join FULRO but we all did. Jim Gant was just following in our footsteps. In addition to the yards in SOG, there was another whole group in the CIDG (Civilian Irregular Defense Groups) based on strong SF forts scattered around the country and situated to defend the yard villages in the mountains. These were very hard to storm and the VC/NVA usually, but not always, stayed away from them. Some CIDG units were Montagnards, some were ethnic Chinese, some were Cambodian tribesmen. There were similar tribes in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam in the mountains. At the very end the US Government abandoned the Montagnards to their fate. It was only through the enduring efforts of their SF brothers that so many were helped to come to America. If you want to see what this was like watch the movie, "Farewell to the King." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montagnards_%28people%29

I am a member of two clans of the Mnong Gar. several poor water bufflao died to celebrate my adoption. pl

turcopolier

All
Something else I should mention about MACVSOG is that we were forbidden by the US Government to attempt to bring down the North Vietnamese government by internal revolt. Without that order we would surely have tried. pl

FB Ali

As I see it, the inherent problem faced by such SF practitioners is that, though their operations may be very successful tactically, they remain only a sideshow in the larger strategic picture. And, that the promises made to, or hopes raised among, the indigenous people who are the principal performers in such operations are seldom fulfilled in the political arrangements at the end of the conflict.

The classic example is TE Lawrence and his shepherding of the Arab revolt against the Turks. His campaign achieved great success, but it was merely an appendage to Allenby's main offensive. In spite of Lawrence's postwar political prominence his Arabs got a raw deal in the peace settlement.

It seems the new breed of SF operatives prefer a different approach. Instead of living, motivating and working with the locals they prefer to hire local warlords and gangsters, as Anand Gopal graphically described in a recent piece in the NYT:

www.nytimes.com/2014/05/31/opinion/the-wrong-afghan-friends.html?

JM Gavin

I posted the following comment on the "War On The Rocks" site after Joseph Collins' review of the book. The book focuses on the destruction of Gant's career, and I disagree strongly with Bing West's assertion that the story did not end in tragedy. From "War On The Rocks":

I served with Jim Gant while I was an instructor at Robin Sage, I found him tiresome, a legend in his own mind. He had a small following of fanboys who idolized him. The rest of us just found him annoying. He loved having the captive audience of Sage students. He would tell overly dramatic tales that inevitably ended with him bawling. I found his behavior in front of the students embarrassing and unprofessional.

When Gant left, and I heard that he had gone back to AF, I knew no good could come of it. I bear him no ill will, and I am not pleased with the way the Army and the SF Regiment treated him at the end of his career. That said, I can’t think of a reason why anyone would read a book about him.

Highlander

Why do you think the American"Best and Brightest" elites ruled out the internal revolt option?

Of course these were the same idiots, who would let us bomb one end of a bridge,but not the other end. So the NVA(being a pretty smart bunch) would figure out which end was protected,and proceed to shoot the hell out of us from the protected side.

turcopolier

Jim Gavin
A bit harsh but, then, you knew him and I did not. When I went through Robin Sage it was called "Cherokee Trail." I know Bing West well and a lot of his critique is based on his inability to see good in any Army person. pl

Highlander

What's wrong with hiring local Warlords and gangsters?

At least you don't have to feel guilty, when they are abandoned and left to the tender mercies of our enemies.

FB Ali

There is a lot wrong - unless the aim of SF ops is just to kill and terrorize the local population.

I would suggest that, before commenting, it might be a good thing to read Anand Gopal's account of the activities of these "local warlords and gangsters" that I linked to in my comment.

turcopolier

highlander

I am at least semi-literate and so was given the task of writing the last yearly SOG annex to the COMUSMACV report to the Joint Chiefs. To do that I had to read all the previous reports. That stricture on our efforts was repeated many times. I agree that Washington's view of the war was nonsensical. Perhaps DC was always hoping for a negotiated settlement with the North Vietnamese state? pl

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