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War Stories

II Field Force

Information provided by Robert "Bob" Graham a Centaur who moved on to II Field Forces


The below historical document was a product of the II FF General staff. This internal document was authored by the entire staff and updated on an as need basis. It was published for local internal staff distribution as a reference for new staff member updates and preparation of operational plans and orders.

This version gives a very brief history of II FF Force Vietnam to the end of the Third Tet Offensive. This copy was retained at the end of tour in 1969 and has been reproduced as a personal historical document in personal memoirs of 2012. The reproduction process was to scan to a MS Document including the cover and correct to the original. To improve readability the type and font size was changed and the content physically condensed, (not edited) to reduce the number document of pages. It should be noted that the original actual document that is in my personal files had no publication identification, date or unite designation other than the cover and internal references.

I was personally involved in small segments of the content during my six month assignment as G-3 Air on the II FF General Staff. I used an earlier version to get the broad picture of the history of II Field Forces headquarters and understand the force structure as it was generated by Gen Julian Ewell the CG II FF.

In general mention is only of major force elements at the Brigade, Squadron, and Division level and a few smaller independent organizations plus Allied Forces. There are explanations of the broad strategies and tactics employed that are unknown, lost or omitted from the individual experience. Most important are the various named operations and their statistical outcomes in terms of KIA, body count, weapons destroyed and captured and other data.

I wish to acknowledge the considerable effort and talent of my friend Beth Grohnke a staff member of George Mason University who did the original scan from the 46 year old mimeograph document. The first result was akin to fresh paper with the measles. Correcting to the original print was tedious line by line time consuming. copyright August 2012 Robert L. Graham


II Field Force Vietnam carries on the lineage of its predecessor—the XXII U.S. Army Corps, which was activated in January 1944. After participating in the Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns, XXII Corps was inactivated at the end of World War II.

In January 1966, at Fort Hood, Texas, XXII Corps was reactivated and the name changed to II Field Force. The word Vietnam was added on 15 March 1966 and this date marks the anniversary of the organization of the II Field Force Vietnam.

On 15 March 1966, II FORCEV consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company and had operational control of five major units; the 1st Infantry Division, the 25 Infantry Division, the 173d Airborne Brigade (Sep), the 12th Combat Aviation Group and the 23d Artillery Group.

In August 1966 the 196th Light Infantry Brigade joined II FFORCEV by being attached to the 25th Infantry Division.

On May 1967, the 173d Airborne Brigade and became OPCON to I FORCE\T and the following June the 196th Light Infantry Brigade was lost from II FFORCEV to become part of Task Force Oregon.

By July 1967, seven major units had joined II FFORCEV; the 9th Infantry Division, the 1st Australian Task Force, the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, the 3d Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, the 11 Armored Cavalry Regiment, the 54h Artillery Group and the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor. The 23 and 54th Artillery Groups are under the command of II Field Force.

By the close of October 1967, the 12th Aviation Group had been supplemented by the 25th Army Aviation Company, the 3d Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry, the 195th Assault Helicopter Company, the 17th AHC, the 135t.p AHC, the 242d Assault Support Helicopter Company, and the 190th AHC. Also by this time, II FORCEV had acquired a long Range Reconnaissance Company – Company F51st Infantry (Long Range Patrol).

The Royal Thailand Army Volunteer Regiment was another gain at this time and became OPCON to the 9th Infantry Division. A month earlier, in September 1967, the 2d Battalion 34th Armor, which formerly had been attached to II FFORCEV, reverted to the operational control of the 25th Infantry Division.

The 2d and 3d Brigades at the 101 Airborne Division became OPCON to II FFORCEV had been attached to II FORCEV on 20 December 1957. However the 2d Brigade redeployed to I FFORCEV on 30 January 1968.

II FFORCEV is a tactical headquarters controlling all combat units of the Free World Forces in the Vietnamese III Corps Tactical Zone, an area of 10,000 square miles sharing 231 miles of border with Cambodia and having 137 miles of coast line on the South China Sea. The terrain elevation varies from 0 to more than 5,000 feet and is of every type—from mangrove swamp, flooded rice paddies, flat land, heavy triple-canopied jungle to jungle covered mountains.

The II FFORCEV mission is to conduct military operations in support of the Republic of Vietnam in this vast area of geographical contrasts.

As its fighting forces grew in strength, II FFORCEV progressed from small unit attacks against the VC to multidivisional operations. From the beginning, it pushed into areas that had long been the VC’s private domain. Thrusts were made into areas which had become notorious throughout the years of VC domination; War Zones “C” and “D”, the Filhol Rubber Plantation, the Ho Bo Woods, the Michelin Rubber Plantation and the Iron Triangle.

Just as II FFORCEV grew in fighting strength, so did it grow in firepower and mobility and it pushed deeper into the VC secret bases. Units under its operational control engaged and routed the enemy’s main force regiments, his local force guerrillas, his infrastructure and invading North Vietnamese Army Regiments. Each jab at the enemy kept him on the move, made him change his base camps and renew his vital supply lines.

Before II FFORCEV became operational it was generally conceded that the VC master plan of aggression had started its move from Phase II to Phase III; i.e., from small unit guerrilla attacks to large scale conventional attacks. The VC strength and capability was reaching that point where they could stand toe-to-toe and take on the combined might of the South Vietnamese Army and the Free World Forces in pitched battles.

During the first month of II FFORCEV operations, the 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division teamed up with the 173d Airborne Brigade and elements of the 10th Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. This was SILVER CITY, a combined operation in the dense jungles north of the Don Nai River on the western edge of War Zone “D”.

This was the beginning, and what followed was a long line of operations that took a tremendous toll of enemy, both in personnel and equipment. Some of the more significant operations include the following in alphabetical order: ARRON (SERIES), ATTLEBORO, BIRMINGHAM, CEDAR FALLS, CORONADO (SERIES), DIAMOND HEAD, ENTERPRISE, JUNCTION CITY, KOLIKOLE, MANHATTAN AND SHENANDOAH (SERIES).

The first II Field Force Vietnam operation involving a multidivisional force was named Operation Attleboro. Initial contact was made with the VC on 14 September, 1966 by the 196th Light Infantry Brigade operating around its base camp at Tay Ninh. The brigade cut critical VC lines of communication in the western edge of Tay Ninh Province near the Cambodian border.

As VC resistance was crushed, the operation ranged deep into the prized War Zone “C” Armored columns cut deeper into the area than had any force before it, driving to within sight of the Cambodian border.

More than 1,000 VC were killed. The VC lost large ammunition stores, including more than 12,000 grenades, and was deprived of nearly 2,400 tons of rice and other vital food supplies.


During January 1967, II FFORCEV carried out a plan to rip up the Iron Triangle. D-Day was Sunday, 8 January. The 25th Infantry Division, the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, and the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, closed on the Saigon River to block the VC’s western escape route. The 1st Infantry Division began maneuvering from the north.

Encirclement of the Iron Triangle was completed on D+1 when four battalions of the 1st Infantry Division and two of the 173d Airborne Brigade were landed by helicopter. Two battalions of combat engineers began cutting the Iron Triangle jungle into small pieces, clearing several landing zones in the process.

Civilians were moved from the area by Vietnamese and American civic action teams and were relocated in government safe area. The enemy was deprived of a civilian labor force, food, and military supplies.


The first of the CORONADO series was launched on 1 June 1967 and was the first major operation involving the entire assets of the Mobile Riverine Force in Long An Province. This force, in conjunction with elements of the U.S. 9th Infantry Division, the ARVN 50th Infantry and other units accounted for a cumulative total of more than 1,400 enemy killed, 300 weapons, 1,600 detainees.


This multi-division operation, controlled by II FORCEV, was initiated on 22 February 1967 in War Zone C, 75 miles northwest of Saigon. The objective was to find and destroy the Central Office South Vietnam (COSVN), the supreme VC headquarters in South Vietnam, and to clear the zone of enemy forces and equipment.

After extensive bombings by the Air Force, three sides of the objective area were rimmed by a horse shoe of U.S. forces. These included units from the 1st Infantry Division, 5th Infantry Division, 173 Airborne Brigade 196th Light Infantry Brigade and 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

On 18 March, 1967, Phase II of Junction City was launched and directed against the VC in the eastern part of War Zone “C”.
Enemy losses for the entire operation were 2,713 killed, 34 detained, and 137 ralliers. Also captured were 491 individual weapons, 95 crew-served weapons, 51 radios, 5 generators, 3 printing presses, and 693 tons of rice. Destroyed were 5 crew served mortar rounds.


The Revolutionary Development Program is designed and pursued in all its aspects by the Government of Vietnam. It is an integrated military and civil program to restore, consolidate, and expand government control so that nation building can progress throughout the Republic of Vietnam. Its aims are: to liberate the people from Viet Cong control; restore public security; initiate political, economic and social development; extend effective Government of Vietnam authority; and win the willing support of the people toward these ends.

II FFORCEV and all its units actively support Revolutionary Development. This support has taken the form of combat operations to reestablish security and government control and psychological and civic action operations in and around the villages

Pacification and revolutionary development progress in the 10,000 square mile III Corps Tactical Zone (CTZ) during 1967 was generally steady despite some setbacks and disappointments.

The most important event in 1967 was the formation of the combined agency named Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS).
Military civic action projects are normally limited to technical advice and providing some hard-to-get materials and equipment. Projects are the heart of the civic action program. Projects include the construction and repair of roads, schools, bridges, medical facilities, water purification systems, sanitation systems and other services necessary to any people.

The groundwork for small industry development was begun in 1967 and has continued in 1968. Industrial development committees are to be established in all III CTZ Provinces and surveys are being accomplished in Binh Duong and Tay Ninh provinces.

Combined operations continue with Army Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG), Regional Force (RF), and Popular Force (PF) units to improve mutual confidence, understanding and effectiveness of both U.S. Forces and ARVN Forces as a combined combat team.


With the arrival of Rome Plow-equipped jungle clearing teams in July 1967, a new phase of VC base area denial started in III Corps Tactical Zone. Using other teams in conjunction with combat operations, large areas of jungle and forest have been destroyed. Extensive jungle clearing was conducted during operations such as Lam Son 67, Ainslie, Barking Sands, the Akron series, and the Emporia Series. Jungle clearing has improved base security by denying covered and concealed avenues of approach into base camp areas. Field of fire have been cleared, thus improving the combat effectiveness of weapons on outer perimeter. It has also extended observation capabilities of security personnel and facilities patrolling. These operations are a vital adjunct to the continuing program to improve base camp defense from rocket and mortar attack.

Major II FORCEV objectives during August, September and October 1967 were to strengthen security in the countryside, to defeat the enemy effort to sabotage the national elections, to deny the enemy resources and base areas and to defeat and destroy enemy forces.

In August, extensive road and jungle clearing penetrations into known or suspected base camps and staging areas were conducted.
In September the success of defeating enemy efforts to sabotage the national elections was dramatically demonstrated when approximately 80% of the electorate participated in the election.

During November, military activity in III Corps Tactical Zone was highlighted by the enemy’s unsuccessful attempts to achieve a victory in Phuoc Long Province. On three occasions (Loc Ninh, Song Be and Bu Dop Bo Duc), main force units were committed against seemingly vulnerable and lightly defended targets. In each case, the continuing improvement in the effectiveness of ARVN and RF/PF units was evident as RVNAF units withstood heavy assaults until additional units could be committed. Also in November, the dry season campaign was initiated and major elements of the 101st Airborne Division began to arrive in country.

December was marred by a significant increase in enemy contacts and willing masses of the enemy to engage in sustained combat. II FFORCEV increased the scope of dry season campaign operations. Additional combat power continued to arrive in III CTZ. The 3d Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment arrived at Nui Dat in the last month of 1967, increasing the strength of the 1st Australian Task Force by 796 personnel. Both the 101st Airborne Division and the Royal Australian Regiment continued training at this time.

January 1968 was characterized by increased offensive operations against the enemy particularly in War Zone “C”, northern Binh Long and Phuoc Long provinces, north of Hau Nghia province and near the junction of Bien Hoa, Binh Duong and Long Khanh provinces. Enemy initiated activity increased significantly, characterized by repeated attacks against friendly installations and defensive positions.

The continued steady improvement in the security status of road lines of communication (LOC) contributed to successful combat operations and to the economic growth of the RVN. Overland movement of convoys and supplies has reduced the time required to commit forces to battle and to conduct logistical operations. It reduces the airlift requirement for both USAF and US Army aviation units. The Vietnamese people move to and from work and transport commercial products to market with less fear of taxation, LOC interdictions and other incidents. Until the end of January, convoys could move over all national highways in III CTZ, with the exception of the Interprovincial Highway 1A route to Dong Xoai and then on Highway 14 to the northeast.

Through late December 1967 and the month of January 1968 it became clear that the enemy was seeking some kind of psychological victory. The Tet Truce Violation was initiated in the III CTZ on 31 January 1968. The offensive was designed to seize and hold key governmental and military installations in Saigon, the provincial capitals and district headquarters. Additionally, the key military installations of II Field Force Vietnam, III Corps, Bien Hoa and Tan Son Nhut Airbase were prime targets. The base camp of the 1st and 25th U.S. Infantry Divisions received particularly heavy attacks by fire during the offensive.

The III ARVN Corps and II FFORCEV units instantly began the redeployment to meet the new threat. Although as many as fifty percent of the ARVN soldiers were home on leave enjoying their sacred holidays, no ARVN unit was defeated in the sneak attacks.

It became known that the enemy had intended to establish a revolutionary government or at least achieve a position of strength from which to call for peace negotiations if the offensive had succeeded. The fact that the offensive had failed was clear within one week after it was initiated, though documents and Prisoners of War indicated that Phase II of the offensive was scheduled.

Phase II occurred on 18 February 1968, though the scope and intensity of the attacks fell far short of the earlier phase.
The Phase II planned attacks were unquestionably interdicted by allied operations to such an extent that they actually posed no serious threat. Periodic harassing attacks, primarily by fire, regrouping, resupply and replenishing personnel, still continues.

As a result of the TET Truce Violation, Task Force Ware was immediately organized to command and control U.S. tactical units in conjunction with RVNAF to clear the enemy from the Capital Military District and to defend against further attacks. After the initial assault, the VC made several other attempts at Tan Son Nhut and also expended their influence into Saigon city areas of the Phu Tho Racetrack and central Cholon.

During the first part of February the enemy appeared to lose the initiative and day contacts were limited to those initiated by friendly forces. Night contacts were small scale mortaring, of a harassing nature.

On 5 May 1968, the enemy moved with another concentrated attack on Saigon and was met with Task Force Hay. The main enemy effort lies in the west. Groups of infiltrators on the nights of 4 and 5 May entered the Phu Tho Hoa area of Saigon on the western fringes of the city. Infiltration was conducted using various means; wearing of RVN uniforms, traveling at night in small groups of 4 to 10 men, hiding in cargo vehicles, etc. One unsuccessful infiltration attempt was made by placing a large box in the bed of a truck with personnel hidden inside; bricks were then stacked around the box to simulate a load of bricks. Insufficient ventilation was provided and the personnel suffocated. None of the groups were able to infiltrate much beyond one kilometer into the outer perimeter of the city before they were discovered by National Police and Rangers of the RVN 5th Ranger Group.

These attacks resulted in some temporary highway interdictions and an increase in the number of incidents directed against convoys. The enemy did not control or interdict critical highways for extended periods of time, and the resulting severe defeat more than offset any temporary psychological victory which the enemy may have initially gained.

Since the TET attack and the 5 May attack some purely military facts are now clear. In our Tactical Area of Operations, the enemy has failed to achieve a single military objective. During the period 1 January to 1 June 1968, ARVN and U.S. units have killed 33,873 of the enemy and captured 3,049. The enemy has also lost 13,696 individual and 2,346 crew-served weapons during that same period. Besides disastrous losses to his main forces, the enemy has also had his local forces (guerrillas) badly defeated, and many members of his infrastructure have been sacrificed as riflemen.

Our combined military-civil operations, conducted by ARVN, US, and National Police, have been targeted against the main force, local force and infrastructure.
In the weeks that followed the TET Offensive, US and ARVN units in this corps area began mopping up the enemy still milling around in Gia Dinh Province.
Operation Quyet Thang, a joint ARVN-US operation, was then launched to drive the fragmented and disorganized enemy units away from the populated centers. During the operation, from 11 March to 7 April 1968, the enemy lost 2,685 killed and 147 captured. He also lost 173 122mm rockets and 184 tons of rice.
Our next operation was Toan Thang, also a joint campaign, which had the objective of keeping the pressure on the enemy in his base areas so that he couldn’t reorganize and re-fit. Toan Thang’s success was indicated by the fact that of the 26 enemy battalions which attempted to reattack Saigon, beginning 5 May 1968, 13 were stopped far away and elements of only six were able to reach the outskirts of the city—none penetrated the city as organized units. By mid-May it was obvious that the present enemy in the III CTZ could no longer maintain the same intensity of his threat without a wholesale invasion of fresh North Vietnamese units and replacements. His recruiting efforts in the south were failing and he was being forced to kidnap youngsters to fill his ranks.

While no single facet of the threat, main force, local force, or infrastructure, is more important than another, the massive destruction of the communist main force units has deprived the local forces and infrastructure of their most powerful shield. Conversely sacrifice of local forces and infrastructure cadre has deprived the main force of their eyes, ears and hiding places. This loss of quality coupled with the increasing effectiveness of the GVN, ARVN, and US efforts—military and civil—has changed the balance of power in our favor.

During Tet, Task Force Ware, II FFORCEV Forward headquarters was established to conduct the defense of Saigon. In May, Maj. Gen. John H. Hay Jr assumed command of the task force which evolved into a permanent headquarters on 4 June called Capitol Military Assistance Command (CMAC).

Phase II of the Toan Thang Campaign began on 2 June. In July, the Royal Thai Army Volunteer Regiment returned to Thailand. It was replaced by the Royal Thai Army Volunteer Force with headquarters at Bear Cat and consisted of one brigade and supporting elements from the Thai Panther Division.

The enemy initiated a third general offensive on 17-18 August with concerted attacks on Tay Ninh and Loc Ninh. These were judged to be diversionary thrusts primarily designed to draw Allied reserves away from Saigon. 12-12-12-

Those attacks were followed by a continuing series of engagements in the area southeast of Tay Ninh and Loc Ninh on 11-12 September.

The pace of the enemy’s third offensive was slower than either the Tet or May offensives to date. During the second series of attacks on Tay Ninh and loc Ninh, the enemy attempted to create the impression of a massive commitment by adopting the tactic of committing elements of one battalion each from several regiments. The impression of a multi-regimental attack was intended to induce an Allied reaction.

Failure of those attacks to uncover Saigon, coupled with successful Allied ground and air operations against enemy supply bases and base areas resulted in repeated postponements of major enemy offensive operations.

The entire period since the May offensive was characterized by the enemy’s effort to build up an adequate combat force to effect an assault on Saigon. He drew back along his lines of communications to base areas along the Cambodian border in northern and northwestern III Corps Tactical Zone. The enemy generally chose to avoid major contact with Allied forces during August, September and October. Small attacks by fire on friendly installations and lines of communications were conducted.

In early October, the 3rd Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, set up headquarters at Tan Son Nhut under operational control of CMAC in the defense of Saigon. Late in October, the 1st Air Calvary Division, which had been operating under the III Marine Amphibious Force, moved to III Corps Tactical Zone under operational control of II FFORCEV and was headquartered at Phuoc Vinh.

Violent reaction to the deployment of the 1st Air Cavalry Division in traditional enemy areas in late October and November resulted in several sharp contacts.
The 3rd Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division forced the enemy to remain dispersed in the southern portion of the zone. Aside from the sharp contacts, December was characterized by harassing attacks conducted by small elements. Allied forces located sizeable caches of weapons, ammunition and rice and located and engaged scattered small enemy elements but there was no significant increase in combat activity.

The enemy initiated a Winter/Spring offensive in late November and December. Their attempts as positioning their forces into forward areas and stockpiling ammunition, food and other supplies were continually thwarted by II FIELD FORCE operations causing them to change plans and postpone operations. Their poor communications and logistics, coupled with U.S. and Free World Military Forces spoiling actions kept them off balance indicating a lack of flexibility.

The VC strategy is dependent upon the support of the Vietnamese people the merchants, the farmers, and the little people of the country-side. Some of the people support the VC willingly, others out of abject fear. But willing or not, this support is essential for the VC to survive. For the government of Vietnam, winning the war is winning the support of the people. The government, by steadily gaining the support of the people, is seeking to decrease both the effectiveness and capabilities of the enemy. To accomplish this end, U.S. forces are working hand-in-hand with Vietnamese Army and local government officials. Relocating people into new hamlets; building new schools and roads; and increasing the availability of food, medical supplies, and medical treatment has greatly influenced the people. It is only through continued progress and effort that peace can be attained for a war-weary nation.