From "An Outline
History of Special Forces Participation in the CIDG Program
1961-1975, edited by Stephen Sherman"
Task Force Prong, part of Operation Paul Revere IV
November 8 to December 2, 1966
Dated 11 January 1967 is
a Company B after action report on Task Force Prong. As more and more
conventional units deployed to Vietnam, joint operations with CIDG forces
became an established mode of operations, the trend started in 1966 and
peaked in 1968-69. As outlined earlier, this concept of operation gave
certain advantages to both the conventional force and also to the CIDG.
(1) Background: The 4th Infantry Division planned to conduct a sweep
operation north of Plei Djereng extending east to the 90 line and west to
the Nam Sathay River; the targets were elements of the 325th NVA division
suspected to be in the area. The commander of Co. B recommended that
the area west of the Nam Sathay River be swept also, since the Plei Trap
valley, which made up part of the area west of the river, was a major enemy
infiltration route. 5th SF Group wanted to use a provisional CIDG
battalion to sweep this area. The 4th Division preferred to employ one
of its battalions, with the CIDG sweeping alongside.
However, the fact that CIDG units do operate better in an entire AO than
along an axis of advance, prevailed upon the 4th Division to adopt the 5th
Group CO's proposal; on 8 November 1966, a modified OPLAN was adopted;
Company B then broke the CIDG AO down into three company areas. This
pre-operation change of plans indicates some of the differences between CIDG
and conventional units which had to be ironed out or accounted for before
successful joint operations could begin.
The operation started on 8 November with the 2nd Company 2/8/4th Infantry
Division securing LZ Lane (Lore) at YA 600530. At 0830 hours the air
lift of Task Force Prong began, the 3rd MSF Company and the Company B
command element leading the way. Plei Djereng and Duc Co elements
arrived at 1115, and at 1310 the MSF contacted an NVA anti-aircraft battery
near YA 602542. The enemy was driven off and 1 NVA was killed; 2 x 12.
7mm AA MG's were captured along with 2 x AK47s and 35 packs. No
friendly casualties were suffered. Soon after, the MSF contacted an
NVA squad, killing two of the enemy and suffering 1 USASF wounded. The
Plei Djereng CSF eliminated a 3-man NVA element near YA 605526. At
this point, TF Prong split its elements, Plei Djereng's Company moving south
and Duc Co's along with the command party going west. At 2000 hours
RON positions were secured.
(3) [9-Nov-66] On
the 9th a Plei Djereng security ambush caught an NVA reconnaissance platoon
at YA 606512 at 0805 hours; the enemy were moving north along the CSF's path
of advance south on the previous day. The contact was followed up as
the enemy tried to cross a stream, and a dug-in enemy company was discovered
at YA 605509. Plei Djereng's element consolidated positions on the
north bank of the stream and summoned FAC and artillery. At 1010
hours, the artillery barrage was lifted and Plei Djereng assaulted across
the stream, establishing a platoon size beach-head. Heavy enemy
counter-fire, however, drove the friendly troops back across the stream.
Artillery support was again requested and assistance to secure an LZ for
evacuation of the wounded was summoned. The NVA, however, maneuvered
between the LZ and Plei Djereng troops; Plei Djereng then called for
reinforcements. Results of the day's action were 4 NVA killed; 4 CSF
were killed and 2 USASF and 5 CSF were wounded.
(4) Duc Co's
element, meanwhile, moved west to a trail which was checked by
reconnaissance teams 500 meters north-south. No enemy contact was
made. A platoon moved west and found remains of an AIE with
identifying letters ZB on the tail. The MSF-element closed in on an LZ
at YA612553 to exfiltrate captured weapons, and a security element ambushed
4 NVA, killing all.
(5) At 1313 hours, Duc Co's element moved to reinforce Plei Djereng; Duc
Co's troops were alerted for a machine gun nest and snipers at YA606571.
At 1530 hours, a link-up was made and both elements withdrew, Duc Co
covering. Creeping artillery cover also helped keep the NVA at bay.
By 1830 hours, the wounded were evacuated from LZ Lane; a Plei Djereng
platoon then secured the LZ while the rest of the Task Force assumed RON
On 10 November, Co. C, 1/14, landed at LZ Lane to aid the CIDG in an assault
against the company uncovered by Plei Djereng on 9 November. Co. C was
to assault from the east while the CIDG moved south to block the enemy and
enable Company C to execute an envelopment. The CIDG, however,
encountered an NVA reconnaissance element shortly after moving out and a
short firefight erupted, the enemy withdrawing east and losing 1 NVA.
Next, the CIDG contacted an estimated NVA battalion in an "L" shaped ambush
at YA605515 and a fierce fight ensued. The CIDG consolidated a
defensive position at YA608515 and artillery and air support were summoned.
Enemy fire slackened to sniper action by 1800 hours. Results were 12
NVA killed, 1 USASF and 4 CSF killed, 1 US and 17 CSF wounded and 5 CSF
missing. The MSF, meanwhile, ambushed 6 NVA, five miles away from the
Co. C - CSF action, killing 4 and wounding 2, who were captured; at 1630
hours, a security element near a dry lake bed slew a sniper. A
perimeter was set, ambushes were laid on a trail paralleling the lake bed,
and the northwest and east sides of the bed were secured.
[11-Nov-66] On 11
November 1966, at 0015 hours, Company A and Company C, 1/14, linked up with
the CSF at YA605515. Meanwhile at 0600 hours, the MSF on the west side
of the lake bed received heavy fire from an NVA company. Air and
artillery support arrived, but enemy mortars and machine guns opened up from
the north, east and south; the support elements shifted fire onto the new
attacks, and the NVA to the west resumed fire. The MSF withdrew, as an
estimated battalion of NVA pushed the attack. A resupply aircraft at
0900 was driven off, killing 2 crew members of an HU1D; heavy fighting
continued until 1240, but a successful resupply occurred at 1230. At
1630, Co. B, 1/12, arrived as reinforcements. Results of the encounter
were 58 NVA, 1 USASF, 1 US, and 13 CIDG killed; 3 USASF and 40 CIDG were
wounded. A night-perimeter was established at YA601515 and a security
element of Co. A, 1/14, ambushed an NVA squad at YA606511.
[12-15 Nov-66] From
12 - 15 November the CSF elements moved to LZ Lane. Enroute, 5 NVA
were encountered; one was wounded and one captured. On 13 November,
the CSF were heli-lifted to Plei Djereng and Plei Me sent a replacement
company. The Plei Me element and a reconnaissance platoon, 1/14,
conducted saturation patrols around LZ Lane on the 15th of November.
The MSF on the 12th, searched the scene of the 11th's action but made no
contact. On the 13th, the MSF and Co. B, 1/12, moved to secure a fire
base for the 1/12 infantry at YA602550. On 14 November, the 1st Co.
MSF replaced the 3rd Co.
16 November a company of CSF from Buon Blech was heli-lifted from Plei
Djereng's staging area to conduct search and destroy operations with the
2/8. On 17 November, contact was made by Plei Me's element with an NVA
company, but the enemy broke contact. At 1200 hours, the Plei Me
element and a reconnaissance platoon contacted two NVA battalions in bunkers
near YA605503. Heavy fire pinned the friendly troops down until Co. B,
1/14, linked up. The friendly troops then withdrew a short distance
and placed air strikes and artillery on the bunkers. An NVA element,
however maneuvered between the LZ and the units in contact and inflicted
some casualties. Plei Me lost 1 CIDG killed, 1 VNSF, 2 USASF and 3
CIDG wounded; total enemy losses were placed at 189 NVA killed.
Blech's element made no contact and was replaced by a Phu Tuc element on 25
November 1966. The new element likewise made no contact, and on 26
November the MSF was released from the operation. A second Buon Blech
company arrived to operate with 1/12 on 28 November, but no contact occurred
and Operation (Task Force) Prong was terminated on 2 December, 1200 hours.
Totals were 272 NVA killed, 2 WIA and 3 CIA; friendly troops lost 27 killed,
83 wounded and 5 missing. A variety of enemy arms were captured
including 2 x 12.7 AA MG's and 25 AK47s.
(11) Task Force Prong was part of Operation Paul Revere IV, and the action
was prompted by intelligence reports of enemy infiltration west of the 4th
Division's TAOR. The enemy units contacted were parts of the 33rd and
88th NVA regiments.
(12) The CIDG suffered from insufficient numbers of automatic weapons.
The operation illustrated well the principle of utilizing the CSF to find
and fix the enemy, after which the 4th Division elements
reinforced them to try to destroy the enemy. The CIDG elements were
very successful in uncovering enemy units.
In weapons use, the M-79 was found to detonate on small branches prior to
reaching its target. The ammunition was felt to need improvement to
avoid this fault. This after action report illustrates well how CIDG
and conventional units complemented one another.