Combined Action Program
The Combined Action Program was a United States Marine Corps operational initiative implemented in the Vietnam War and proved to be one of the most effective counterinsurgency tools developed during that conflict. Operating from 1965 to 1971, this program was characterized by the placement of a thirteen-member Marine rifle squad, augmented by a U. S. Navy Corpsman and strengthened by a Vietnamese militia platoon of older youth and elderly men, in or adjacent to a rural Vietnamese hamlet. In most cases, the Popular Forces militia members were residents of the hamlet who were either too young or too old to be drafted into the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam or the Regional Forces; the entire unit of American Marines and Popular Forces militia members together was designated as a Combined Action Platoon. The program was said to have originated as a solution to one Marine infantry battalion's problem of an expanding Tactical Area of Responsibility; the concept of combining a squad of Marines with local and assigning them a village to protect proved to be a force multiplier.
While the exact implementation varied with the stage of the war and local command variations, the basic model was to combine a Marine squad with local forces to form a village defense platoon. It was effective in denying the enemy a sanctuary at the local village level; the pacification campaign seemed to work under the CAP concept, the Marines embraced it. Objectively, there is no solid proof. "Counterinsurgency operations and, in particular, the establishment of a foreign internal defense lends itself for the greatest utility of employing a CAP-style organization. Recent operations in Somalia and Bosnia suggest a CAP-style organization could accomplish the assigned mission." In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Marines reinstituted a variant of the CAP. The CAP concept seems to have been at least based on Marine pacification programs in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, elsewhere, during the Banana Wars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In these programs, Marine units would pacify and administer regions, while providing training and security for local forces and villages.
There are connections to other pacification programs, such as the Philippine Insurrection."CAP came for the Marine Corps because counterguerrilla warfare was part of the USMC heritage. From 1915 to 1934, the Corps had a wealth of experience in foreign interventions fighting guerrillas in Nicaragua and Santo Domingo. For example, the Marines organized and trained the Gendarmerie d'Haiti and the Nacional Dominicana in Haiti and Santo Domingo from 1915 to 1934. In Nicaragua, the Marines organized and commanded the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua; these organizations were nonpartisan, native constabularies the Marines commanded until host-nation forces could competently assume command." "The historical background of Army and Marine counter-insurgency operations, the perceived enemy center of gravity in Vietnam, the strategic aim, identified critical enemy factors are key to understanding Marine versus Army operational differences on conducting the "Other War." It was these differences and past Marine experience that contributed to the creation of the U.
S. Marines' Combined Action Platoon. Opinions differ about how and where Combined Action originated, but it seems to have started in August 1965 as a unit drawn from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, under LtCol William W. Taylor in the Phu Bai area. 3/4's TAOR included an airfield in a ten square mile area. The unit was overextended, Taylor's executive officer, suggested that they incorporate local militia units into 3/4's operations. Taylor sent the plan to COL E. B. Wheeler, Commanding Officer of the 4th Marine Regiment, who forwarded it to the III Marine Amphibious Force and Fleet Marine Forces Pacific. Major General Lew Walt and Lieutenant General Victor Krulak, both of whom had fought in the Banana War, saw the potential value and agreed to the proposal. GEN Nguyễn Văn Chuân, the local Army of the Republic of Vietnam CO, gave Walt control of the Vietnamese platoons near Phu Bai. Taylor integrated four squads with the local PF units in August 1965. 1stLt Paul Ek was designated as unit commander.
The Marines were handpicked volunteers from 3/4 screened by the executive officer, Maj Zimmerman. "Zimmerman drew upon his knowledge of the British Army's experiences in 19th Century India. While studying British procedures of that era, Zimmerman had developed an appreciation for the British propensity towards "Brigading." He knew that by combining a British unit with one or more native units, the British were not only able to increase the size of their army for a comparatively small investment of British troops, but succeeded in increasing the quality of the native units. This was in Zimmerman's mind when he developed the plan that called for combining a U. S. Marine rifle squad with a PF platoon to form an integrated self-defense force, able to protect the village from low level Viet Cong threats; the combining of the Marines and the PFs was seen as optimal since both brought unique qualities to the union. The PFs, a poorly trained and neglected home guard, brought knowledge of people and terrain.
They brought the emotional benefits associated with defending their homes. The Marines brought the benefits of trained, well led, aggressive combat troops." MG Walt formalized the program in February 1967, appointing LtCol William R. Co
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was a South Vietnamese politician. A former mandarin of the Nguyễn dynasty, he was named Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam by Head of State Bảo Đại in 1954. In October 1955, after winning a rigged referendum, he deposed Bảo Đại and established the first Republic of Vietnam, with himself as president, he was opposed by Buddhists. In November 1963, after constant Buddhist protests and non-violent resistance, Diệm was assassinated during a CIA-backed coup d'état, along with his brother, Ngô Đình Nhu, by Nguyễn Văn Nhung, the aide of the leader of the Army of Republic of Vietnam, General Dương Văn Minh. Diệm has been a controversial historical figure in historiography on the Vietnam War; some historians portrayed him as a tool of the U. S. policymakers, some considered him an avatar of Vietnamese tradition. Some recent studies have portrayed Diệm from a more Vietnamese-centred perspective as a competent leader with his own vision on nation building and modernisation of South Vietnam.
Ngô Đình Diệm was born in 1901 in a province in central Vietnam. His family originated in a Catholic village adjacent to Huế City, his clan had been among Vietnam's earliest Catholic converts in the 17th century. Diệm was given a saint's name at birth, Gioan Baotixita, following the custom of the Catholic Church; the Ngô-Đình family suffered under the anti-Catholic persecutions of Emperors Minh Tự Đức. In 1880, while Diệm's father, Ngô Đình Khả, was studying in British Malaya, an anti-Catholic riot led by Buddhist monks wiped out the Ngô-Đình clan. Over 100 of the Ngô clan were "burned alive in a church including Khả's parents and sisters." Note that while he is referred to as Diệm in English, his family name is Ngô. Ngô Đình Khả was educated in a Catholic school in British Malaya, where he learned English and studied the European-style curriculum, he was a devout scrapped plans to become a Roman Catholic priest in the late 1870s. He worked for the commander of the French armed forces as an interpreter and took part in campaigns against anti-colonial rebels in the mountains of Tonkin during 1880.
He rose to become a high-ranking Mandarin, the first headmaster of the National Academy in Huế and a counselor to Emperor Thành Thái under the French colonial regime. He was appointed chamberlain and keeper of the eunuchs. Despite his collaboration with the French colonizers, Khả was "motivated less by Francophilia than by certain reformist ambitions". Like Phan Châu Trinh, Khả believed that independence from France could be achieved only after changes in Vietnamese politics and culture had occurred. In 1907, after the ouster of emperor Thành Thái, Khả resigned his appointments, withdrew from the imperial court, became a farmer in the countryside. After the tragedy of his family, Khả decided to married. After his first wife died childless, Khả remarried and had nine children—six sons and three daughters—by his second wife, Phạm Thị Thân; these were Ngô Đình Khôi, Ngô Đình Thị Giao, Ngô Đình Thục, Ngô Đình Diệm, Ngô Đình Thị Hiệp, Ngô Đình Thị Hoàng, Ngô Đình Nhu, Ngô Đình Cẩn, Ngô Đình Luyện.
As a devout Roman Catholic, Khả took his entire family to Mass each morning and encouraged his sons to study for the priesthood. Having learned both Latin and classical Chinese, Khả strove to make sure his children were well educated in both Christian scriptures and Confucian classics. During his childhood, Diệm laboured in the family's rice fields while studying at a French Catholic primary school in Huế, entered a private school started by his father, where he studied French and classical Chinese. At the age of fifteen he followed his elder brother, Ngô Đình Thục, who would become Vietnam's highest-ranking Catholic bishop, into a monastery. Diệm swore himself to celibacy to prove his devotion to his faith, but found monastic life too rigorous and decided not to pursue a clerical career. According to Moyar, Diệm's personality was too independent to adhere to the discipline of the Church. Diem inherited his father's antagonism toward the French colonialists who occupied his country. At the end of his secondary schooling at Lycée Quốc học, the French lycée in Huế, Diem's outstanding examination results elicited the offer of a scholarship to study in Paris.
He declined and, in 1918, enrolled at the prestigious School of Public Administration and Law in Hanoi, a French school that prepared young Vietnamese to serve in the colonial administration. It was there that he had the only romantic relationship of his life, when he fell in love with one of his teacher's daughters. After she chose to persist with her vocation, entering a convent, he remained celibate for the rest of his life. Diệm's family background and education Catholicism and Confucianism, had influences on his life and career, on his thinking on politics and history. According to Miller, Diệm "displayed Christian piety in everything from his devotional practices to his habit of inserting references to the Bible into his speeches". After graduating at the top of his class in 1921, Diệm followed in the footsteps of his eldest brother, Ngô Đình Khôi, joining the civil service in Thừa Thiên as a junior official. Starting from the lowest rank of mandarin, Diệm rose over the next decade, he first served at the royal library in Huế, within one year was the district chief in both Thừa Thiên and nearby Quảng Trị province, presiding over
Republic of Vietnam Navy
The Republic of Vietnam Navy was the naval branch of the South Vietnamese military, the official armed forces of the former Republic of Vietnam from 1955 to 1975. The early fleet consisted of boats from France. After 1955 and the transfer of the armed forces to Vietnamese control, the fleet was supplied from the United States. With assistance from the U. S. the VNN became the largest Southeast Asian navy, with 42,000 personnel, 672 amphibious ships and craft, 20 mine warfare vessels, 450 patrol craft, 56 service craft, 242 junks. The origins of the Viet Nam Navy began in 1952 with the French Navy. In 1954, in accordance with the Elysée Accords, the French handed control of the armed forces to the Vietnamese, but at the request of the Vietnamese government, continued to be in charge of the Navy until 20 August 1955. By this time the Navy numbered about 2,000 personnel, with 22 vessels; the Vietnamese received assistance in the development of the VNN from the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group.
In 1956, the North Vietnamese began infiltrating men and arms into the Republic of Vietnam's territory by sea. In response the VNN created the Coastal Junk Force of junks manned by Regional Irregular Forces and local fishermen recruited for the occasion, to patrol the waters around the Demilitarized Zone; the force came to be known as Coastal Groups, patrolled the entire 1,200-mile coastline. This force was under the control of the regional military zone commands rather than the Navy, was not incorporated into the VNN until 1965, by which time it numbered over 100 vessels. In the late 1950s the Vietnam Navy was being modernized and developed, receiving ships and training from the United States Navy. By 1961 the VNN had a force of 23 ships, the largest of which were LSMs, 197 boats, 5,000 men; this was insufficient to counter the growing threat of enemy infiltration and the years 1962-1964 were marked by a rapid expansion. The number of ships increased to 44 and number of personnel to 8,100; this process continued and by the end of 1967 the personnel strength of the VNN had increased to 16,300, with 65 ships, along with 232 vessels of the River Assault Group, 290 junks, 52 miscellaneous craft.
Throughout 1968 the VNN gave priority to the improvement and expansion of their training programs in anticipation of gaining increased responsibility in the war effort as well as additional assets from the US. By the end of 1968 plans for the turnover of the majority of the United States Navy assets in Vietnam had been formulated. In early 1969, President Richard M. Nixon formally adopted the policy of "Vietnamization"; the naval part, called ACTOV, involved the phased transfer to Vietnam of the U. S. river and coastal fleet, as well as operational command over various operations. In mid-1969, the VNN took sole responsibility for river assault operations when the U. S. Mobile Riverine Force stood down and transferred 64 riverine assault craft to the VNN. By the end of 1970, the U. S. Navy ceased all operations throughout South Vietnam, having transferred a total of 293 river patrol boats and 224 riverine assault craft to the VNN. During 1970 and 1971 the United States relinquished control of the coastal and high seas patrols to the VNN.
The U. S. naval command transferred four Coast Guard cutters, a destroyer escort radar picket ship, an LST, various harbor control, mine craft, support vessels. By August 1972, the VNN took responsibility for the entire coastal patrol effort when it took over the last 16 U. S. coastal radar installations. In addition to ships and vessels, the U. S. transferred support bases. The first change of command occurred in November 1969 at Mỹ Tho, the last in April 1972 at Nhà Bè, Bình Thủy, Cam Ranh Bay, Đà Nẵng. By 1973, the Vietnam Navy numbered over 1,400 ships and vessels. In 1973 and 1974, as a result of the Paris Peace Accords, the United States drastically cut its financial support for the Vietnamese armed forces; the VNN was compelled to reduce its overall operations by half, its river combat and patrol activities by 70%. To conserve supplies, over 600 river and harbor craft and 22 ships were laid up. On 19 January 1974, four VNN ships fought a battle with four ships of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy over ownership of the Paracel Islands, 200 nautical miles due east of Đà Nẵng.
The VNN ship Nhựt Tảo was sunk, Lý Thường Kiệt was damaged, both Trần Khánh Dư and Trần Bình Trọng suffered light damage. The Chinese occupied the islands. In the spring of 1975, North Vietnamese forces occupied all of northern and central South Vietnam, Saigon fell on 30 April 1975; however Captain Kiem Do had secretly planned and carried out the evacuation of a flotilla of thirty-five Vietnam Navy and other vessels, with 30,000 sailors, their families, other civilians on board, joined the U. S. Seventh Fleet when it sailed for Subic Bay, Philippines. Most of the Vietnamese ships were taken into the Philippine Navy, though the LSM Lam Giang, fuel barge HQ-474, gunboat Kéo Ngựa were scuttled after reaching the open sea and transferring their cargo of refugees and their crews to other ships. VNN Fleet Command was directly responsible to the VNN Chief of Naval Operations for the readiness of ships and craft; the Fleet Commander assigned and scheduled ships to operate in the Coastal Zones, Riverine Areas, the Rung Sat Specia
1960 South Vietnamese coup attempt
On November 11, 1960, a failed coup attempt against President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was led by Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông and Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi of the Airborne Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The rebels launched the coup in response to Diệm's autocratic rule and the negative political influence of his brother Ngô Đình Nhu and his sister-in-law Madame Nhu, they bemoaned the politicisation of the military, whereby regime loyalists who were members of the Ngô family's covert Cần Lao Party were promoted ahead of more competent officers who were not insiders. Đông was supported in the conspiracy by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, whose uncle was a prominent official in a minor opposition party. The main link in the coup was Đông's commanding officer Thi; the coup caught the Ngô family off-guard, but was chaotically executed. The plotters neglected to seal the roads leading into the capital Saigon to seal off loyalist reinforcements, they hesitated after gaining the initiative.
After being trapped inside the Independence Palace, Diệm stalled the coup by holding negotiations and promising reforms, such as the inclusion of military officers in the administration. In the meantime, opposition politicians joined the fray. However, the president's real aim was to buy time for loyalist forces to enter the capital and relieve him; the coup failed when the 5th and 7th Divisions of the ARVN defeated the rebels. More than four hundred people—many of whom were civilian spectators—were killed in the ensuing battle; these included a group of anti-Diệm civilians who charged across the palace walls at Thi's urging and were cut down by loyalist gunfire. Đông and Thi fled to Cambodia, while Diệm berated the United States for a perceived lack of support during the crisis. Afterwards, Diệm ordered a crackdown, imprisoning numerous anti-government critics and former cabinet ministers; those that assisted Diệm were duly promoted. A trial for those implicated in the plot was held in 1963. Seven officers and two civilians were sentenced to death in absentia, while 14 officers and 34 civilians were jailed.
Diệm's regime accused the Americans of sending Central Intelligence Agency members to assist the failed plot. When Diệm was assassinated after a 1963 coup, those jailed after the 1960 revolt were released by the new military junta; the revolt was led by 28-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông, a northerner, who had fought with the French Union forces against the Viet Minh during the First Indochina War. Trained at Fort Leavenworth in the United States, Đông was regarded by American military advisers as a brilliant tactician and the brightest military prospect of his generation and he served in the Airborne Division. Back in Vietnam, Đông became discontented with Diệm's arbitrary rule and constant meddling in the internal affairs of the army. Diệm promoted officers on loyalty rather than skill, played senior officers against one another in order to weaken the military leadership and prevent them from challenging his rule. Years after the coup, Đông asserted that his sole objective was to force Diệm to improve the governance of the country.
Đông was clandestinely supported by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, the director of training at the Joint General Staff School, Hong's uncle Hoang Co Thuy. Thuy was a wealthy Saigon-based lawyer, had been a political activist since World War II, he was the secretary-general of a minority opposition party called the Movement of Struggle for Freedom, which had a small presence in the rubber-stamp National Assembly. Many Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers were members of other anti-communist nationalist groups that were opposed to Diệm, such as the Đại Việt Quốc dân đảng and the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, which were both established before World War II; the VNQDĐ had run a military academy in Yunnan near the Chinese border with the assistance of their nationalist Chinese counterparts, the Kuomintang. Diệm and his family had crushed all alternative anti-communist nationalists, his politicisation of the army had alienated the servicemen. Officers were promoted on the basis of political allegiance rather than competence, meaning that many VNQDĐ and Đại Việt trained officers were denied such promotions.
They felt that politically minded officers, who joined Diệm's secret Catholic-dominated Cần Lao Party, used to control South Vietnamese society, were rewarded with promotion rather than those most capable. Planning for the coup had gone on with Đông recruiting disgruntled officers; this included Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi. In 1955, Thi had fought for Diệm against the Bình Xuyên organised crime syndicate in the Battle for Saigon; this performance so impressed Diệm—a lifelong bachelor—that he thereafter referred to Thi as "my son". However, the Americans who worked with Thi were less impressed; the CIA described Thi as "an opportunist and a man lacking strong convictions". An American military advisor described Thi as "tough and fearless, but dumb". There is some dispute as to. According to some sources, Thi was still an admirer of Diệm and was forced at gunpoint by Đông and his supporters to join the coup at the last minute, having been kept unaware of the plotting. According to this story, Thi's airborne units were moved into position for the coup without his knowledge.
Many months before the coup, Đông had met Diệm's brother and adviser Ngô Đình Nhu regarded as the brains of the regi
Cam Ranh Base
Cam Ranh Air Base is located on Cam Ranh Bay in Khánh Hòa Province, Vietnam. It was one of several air bases built and used by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. Cam Ranh Air Base was part of the large Cam Ranh Bay logistics facility built by the United States, it was the major military seaport used by the United States for the offloading of supplies, military equipment and as a major Naval base. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force units all had compounds and units assigned to the Cam Ranh Bay facility from its opening in 1965 until its closure in 1972 as part of the drawdown of United States military forces in South Vietnam. Between 1979 and 2002, the facility was used by the Soviet Navy and Russian Navy. At the end of 2013, Russia resumed the use of the base in 2014 by its Air Force. On 19 May 2004, after major reconstruction, Cam Ranh Airport received its first commercial flight; as Vietnam considers the facility to be important to its defense, a small garrison of troops are stationed there.
In April 1965 CINCPAC instructed an engineering survey for a new airfield at Cam Ranh Bay. In mid-1965, the American construction consortium RMK-BRJ was directed by the Navy Officer in Charge of Construction RVN to construct a new airfield at Cam Ranh Bay, starting with a temporary 10,000-foot runway consisting of 2.2 million square feet of AM-2 aluminum matting to accommodate jet fighter-bombers. By September, RMK-BRJ had employed 1,800 Vietnamese workers for the work, over half of whom were women; the runway was completed in 50 days, with Admiral U. S. G. Sharp, CINCPAC, laying the last AM-2 plank on 16 October 1965; the airfield was opened for U. S. Air Force operations on 1 November 1965. A 1.3 million square feet cargo apron using pierced steel planking, airport facilities and utilities, mess halls, 25,000 square feet of living quarters were prepared for use by the USAF. By the end of 1966, RMK-BRJ and OICC RVN completed construction of an additional 10,000-foot concrete runway and taxiway at the air base.
Once the concrete runway was built, the original AM-2 runway was to be removed and replaced with a new concrete runway. In addition between June and September US Army engineers built fuel storage areas and 30 miles of roads and lengthened the pier before handing over the work to RMK-BMJ. In July 1965 it was planned that 3 fighter squadrons would be deployed to Cam Ranh Air Base once it was completed in October. On 28 October 1965 an advance party of the 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron arrived at the base, the squadron equipped with F-4C Phantom II fighter-bombers arrived on 1 November and began flying missions over South Vietnam the following day. On 8 November 1965 the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned to the base, being deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; the 12th TFW was the first permanently assigned F-4 Phantom II wing assigned to Southeast Asia. Operational squadrons of the wing at Cam Ranh were: 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron 1 December 1965 – 31 March 1970 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron 8 November 1965 – 31 March 1970 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron 8 November 1965 – 4 January 1966: Replaced by: 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron 1 January 1966 – 31 March 1970 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron 26 January 1966 – 22 July 1968 diverted from the still incomplete Phan Rang Air BaseFrom Cam Ranh AB the wing carried out close air support and combat air patrol activities over South Vietnam, North Vietnam and Laos.
On 26 October 1966 and on 23 December 1967, US President Lyndon B. Johnson landed at the base on his only Presidential visit to South Vietnam, meeting US military personnel. On 31 March 1970, as part of the Vietnamization process the 12th TFW was reassigned to Phù Cát Air Base. Heavy rainfall and strong onshore winds from December 1965 to March 1966 undermined the sand base of the original aluminum mat runway and taxiways at the base, necessitating constant maintenance to smooth out bumps and replace damaged matting. By December 1966 Cam Ranh AB reached over 27,000 aircraft movements a month. Living conditions at the base remained spartan with cramped quarters and shortages of water and electricity; the air base was used as a strategic and tactical airlift facility. Cargo and personnel would arrive from the United States into the logistics facilities at Cam Ranh Bay by ship and by large Military Air Transport Service/Military Airlift Command airlifters, be transferred to tactical airlift for movement within South Vietnam.
Outgoing cargo and personnel would be processed though the large aerial port facility. In November 1965 315th Air Division C-130E squadrons based in Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines began "shuttle" missions out of the airfield. C-130s from Tan Son Nhut Air Base and Nha Trang Air Base made pickups at Cam Ranh. In May 1966 C-130As used for flareship operations at Da Nang Air Base began operations from Cam Ranh and by November 1966 13 C-130As were based there. On 1 December 1965 the 14th Aerial Port Squadron was activated at the base to manage the airfield. In 1966 a new ramp was constructed on the west side of the airfield to handle airlift operations. Cam Ranh remained as the Air Force's primary airlift base in South Vietnam. MAC aircraft operated into Cam Ranh; the 6485th Operations Squadron based at Tachikawa Airfield stationed 4 C-118 Liftmasters on rotation at the base for casualty evacuation. On 8 July 1966 the 903d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was established at Tan Son Nhut AB and it maintained a detachment at Cam Ranh.
In November 1966 the first MAC C-141 Starli
Bien Hoa Air Base
Bien Hoa Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield located in South-Central southern Vietnam about 25 km from Saigon, across the Dong Nai river in the northern ward of Tân Phong, within the city of Biên Hòa within Đồng Nai Province. The boomburb city is densely populated and rings the base, despite the astronomical level of agent orange toxins left there for decades; the base is scheduled to begin cleanup by 2019. During the Vietnam War the base was used by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force; the United States used it as a major base from 1961 through 1973, stationing Army, Air Force and Marine units there. Bien Hoa is located on flat grounds in a rural area 25 km northeast of Saigon; the French Air Force established an air base, the Base aérienne tactique 192, active during the First Indochina War. On 1 June 1955, Bien Hoa Air Base became the RVNAF's logistics support base when the French evacuated their main depot at Hanoi. At this time the base had a single 5,700-foot by 150-foot PSP runway.
In December 1960, the U. S. Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam requested the U. S. Navy, as the designated contract construction agent for the Department of Defense in Southeast Asia, to plan and construct several jet-capable airfields in South Vietnam, including at Bien Hoa. In December 1961, the American construction company RMK-BRJ was directed by the Navy's Officer in Charge of Construction RVN to begin construction of a new concrete runway, the first of many projects built by RMK-BRJ at the Bien Hoa Air Base over the following ten years. With the influx of USAF tactical air units in the early 1960s, Bien Hoa became a joint operating base for both the RVNAF and USAF; the USAF forces stationed. Bien Hoa was the location for TACAN station Channel 73 and was referenced by that identifier in voice communications during air missions, its military mail address was APO San Francisco, 96227. On 11 October 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed, in NSAM 104, that the Defense Secretary "introduce the Air Force'Jungle Jim' Squadron into Vietnam for the initial purpose of training Vietnamese forces."
The 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron was to proceed as a training mission and not for combat. The unit would be titled Detachment 2 of the 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron, code named Farm Gate; the unit would operationally belong to the Air Force section of MAAG Vietnam. Detachment 2A would be the B-26 Invader unit. In late October an advance party from the 6009th Tactical Support Group arrived at Bien Hoa to prepare the base for Farm Gate operations and on 15 November they were joined by Detachment 9, 6010th Tactical Support Group responsible for aircraft maintenance. In late December 4 B-26s began operations. Farm Gate would grow to 4 SC-47s, 4 B-26s and 8 T-28s. In June 1962 2 Army of the Republic of Vietnam soldiers guarding the base perimeter were killed by Viet Cong and as a result CINCPAC Admiral Harry D. Felt recommended the defoliation of the jungle area north of the base and this was carried out by RVNAF H-34 helicopters in July. In May 1962 2 RB-26C night photo-reconnaissance aircraft joined the Farm Gate planes at the base.
One of the aircraft was destroyed in a ground accident on 20 October. In July 1963 the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron was activated at the base, becoming operational on 15 September. Equipped with 4 O-1 Bird Dogs and 20 crews it was tasked with training RVNAF pilots and observers in forward air control and visual reconnaissance. By the end of 1963 it had flown 3862 sorties. By June 1963, the USAF presence in South Vietnam had grown to 5,000 airmen; as the buildup continued, USAF directed the activation of a more permanent organizational structure to properly administer the forces being deployed. On 8 July 1963 the Farm Gate squadrons at Bien Hoa were redesignated the 1st Air Commando Squadron comprising two strike sections, one of 10 B-26s and 2 RB-26s and the other of 13 T-28s, in addition support squadrons operated 6 C-47s and 4 psychological warfare U-10s. On 8 July the 34th Tactical Group was established at the base, taking control of the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron and the 34th Air Base Squadron.
In December 1963 U-2 reconnaissance aircraft operating from the base conducted surveillance missions over Laos and North Vietnam. In early 1964 the USAF and RVNAF were only able to provide half of all requested air support. On 11 February a B-26 operating from Eglin Air Force Base lost a wing in flight and this led to the grounding of all B-26s in South Vietnam. With the loss of the B-26s CINCPAC and Military Assistance Command, Vietnam proposed that they be replaced by B-57B Canberra tactical bombers operating under Farm Gate procedures with RVNAF markings and joint USAF/RVNAF crews. At the end of March 48 B-57s flew from Yokota Air Base in Japan to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. On 8 April the remaining B-26s at Bien Hoa flew to Clark Air Base for scrapping. On 24 March a T-28 lost a wing during a bombing run near Sóc Trăng Airfield killing both crewmen and on 9 April another T-28 lost a wing during a strafing run and crashed. Two officials from North American Aviation, the manufacturers of the T-28, visited Bien Hoa and reviewed these losses and advised that the T-28 wasn't designed for the stresses it was being subjected to as a close air support aircraft.
As a result, 5 older T-28s were retired and 9 newer aircraft were borrowed by the RVNAF and operational restrictions imposed. Despite this augmentation and aircraft transfers meant th
South Vietnam the Republic of Vietnam, was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western Bloc during part of the Cold War. It received international recognition in 1949 as the "State of Vietnam", a constitutional monarchy; this became the "Republic of Vietnam" in 1955. Its capital was Saigon. South Vietnam was bordered by North Vietnam to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast; the Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed on 26 October 1955, with Ngô Đình Diệm as its first president, after having served as premier under Emperor Bao Dai, exiled. Its sovereignty was recognized by the United States and 87 other nations, it had membership in several special committees of the United Nations, but its application for full membership was rejected in 1957 because of a Soviet veto.
South Vietnam's origins can be traced to the French colony of Cochinchina, which consisted of the southern third of Vietnam, Cochinchina, a subdivision of French Indochina, the southern half of Central Vietnam or Annam, a French protectorate. After the Second World War, the anti-Japanese Viet Minh guerrilla forces, led by Ho Chi Minh, proclaimed the establishment of a Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi in September 1945, issuing a Declaration of Independence modeled on the U. S. one from 1776. In 1949, anti-communist Vietnamese politicians formed a rival government in Saigon led by former emperor Bảo Đại. Bảo Đại was deposed by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm in 1955, who proclaimed himself president after a referendum. Diệm was killed in a military coup led by general Dương Văn Minh in 1963, a series of short-lived military governments followed. General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu led the country after a U. S.-encouraged civilian presidential election from 1967 until 1975. The beginnings of the Vietnam War occurred in 1959 with an uprising by the newly organized National Liberation Front for South Vietnam and supported by the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam, with other assistance rendered by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact communist satellites, along with neighboring People's Republic of China and North Korea.
Larger escalation of the insurgency occurred in 1965 with the landing of United States regular forces of Marines, followed by Army units to supplement the cadre of military advisors guiding ARVN southern forces. A regular bombing campaign over North Vietnam was conducted by offshore U. S. Navy airplanes and aircraft carriers joined by Air Force squadrons through 1966 and 1967. Fighting peaked up to that point during the Tet Offensive of February 1968, when there were over a million South Vietnamese soldiers and 500,000 U. S. soldiers in South Vietnam. On the war turned into a more conventional fight as the balance of power became equalized. An larger, armored invasion commenced during the Easter Offensive following US ground-forces withdrawal, had nearly overran some major northern cities until beaten back. Despite a truce agreement under the Paris Peace Accords, concluded in January 1973, after a torturous five years of on and off negotiations, fighting continued immediately afterwards; the North Vietnamese regular army and Viet Cong launched a major second combined-arms invasion in 1975, termed the Spring Offensive.
Communist forces overran Saigon on 30 April 1975. On the day President Duong Van Minh declared RVN cease to exist, five ARVN generals, one Saigon police chief, numbers of ARVN soldiers and officers commit suicide to avoid being humiliated surrender. On July 2, 1976, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; the official name of the South Vietnamese state was Việt Nam Cộng hòa and the French name was referred to as République du Viêt Nam. The North was known as the "Democratic Republic of Vietnam". Việt Nam was the name adopted by Emperor Gia Long in 1804, it is a name used in ancient times. In 1839, Emperor Minh Mạng renamed the country Đại Nam. In 1945, the nation's official name was changed back to "Vietnam"; the name is sometimes rendered as "Viet Nam" in English. The term "South Vietnam" became common usage in 1954, when the Geneva Conference provisionally partitioned Vietnam into communist and non-communist parts.
Other names of this state were used during its existence such as Free Vietnam and the Government of Viet Nam. Before World War II, the southern third of Vietnam was the concession of Cochinchina, administered as part of French Indochina. A French governor-general in Hanoi administered all the five parts of Indochina while Cochinchina was under a French governor, but the difference from the other parts was that most indigenous intellensia and wealthy were naturalized French The northern third of Vietnam (then the colony of Tonkin was under