MRFA Book Review

VIETNAM STUDIES 
RIVERINE OPERATIONS
1966-1969


by 
Major General William B. Fulton 
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY 
WASHINGTON, D. C., 1985 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 72-600370 
First Printed 1973-CMH Pub 90-18 

Ordering Information:

The book may be purchased through out Products Page by clicking
on either Order Form at the bottom of this page
:

Update: October 23, 2008
The price of the book has been reduced to $17.50 which includes shipping

Foreword

The United States Army has met an unusually complex challenge in Southeast Asia. In conjunction with the other services, the Army has fought in support of a national policy of assisting an emerging nation to develop governmental processes of its own choosing, free of outside coercion. In addition to the usual problems of waging armed conflict, the assignment in Southeast Asia has required superimposing the immensely sophisticated tasks of a modern army upon an underdeveloped environment and adapting them to demands covering a wide spectrum. These involved helping to fulfill the basic needs of an agrarian population, dealing with the frustrations of anti-guerrilla operations, and conducting conventional campaigns against well-trained and determined regular units. 

As this assignment nears an end, the U.S. Army must prepare for other challenges that may lie ahead. While cognizant that history never repeats itself exactly and that no army ever profited from trying to meet a new challenge in terms of the old one, the Army nevertheless stands to benefit immensely from a study of its experience, its shortcomings no less than its achievements. 

Aware that some years must elapse before the official histories will provide a detailed and objective analysis of the experience in Southeast Asia, we have sought a forum whereby some of the more salient aspects of that experience can be made available now. At the request of the Chief of Staff, a representative group of senior officers who served in important posts in Vietnam and who still carry a heavy burden of day-to-day responsibilities has prepared a series of monographs. These studies should be of great value in helping the Army develop future operational concepts while at the same time contributing to the historical record and providing the American public with an interim report on the performance of men and officers who have responded, as others have through our history, to exacting and trying demands. 

All monographs in the series are based primarily on official records, with additional material from published and unpublished secondary works, from debriefing reports and interviews with key participants, and from the personal experience of the author. To facilitate security clearance, annotation and detailed bibliography have been omitted from the published version; a fully documented account with bibliography is filed with the Office of the Chief of Military History. 

The author of this monograph, Major General William Fulton, was intimately involved in the early development of the riverine warfare concept as commander of the 2d Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, which arrived in Vietnam in January 1967 and immediately began combat operations in the Mekong Delta. In March the brigade moved into Dong Tam, the base created by dredging sand from the bottom of an arm of the Mekong River. In early June the brigade teamed with Navy Task Force 117 to form the Mobile Riverine Force. During World War II General Fulton fought in Italy and during the Korean War served on the staff of Army Forces Far East Advance. He is presently the Director of Doctrine Evaluation and Command Systems in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development and is also Systems Manager for Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Night Observation Systems. 

Washington, D. C. 15 August 1972 

VERNE L. BOWERS 
Major General, USA 
The Adjutant General

Preface

This monograph describes U.S. Army Riverine planning and operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the years 1966 through 1969. Since the personal experience of the author was with preparations for riverine operations and the initial operations themselves, emphasis has been placed on these activities through early 1968. In summarizing operations conducted in the balance of the three-year period, particular attention has been called to significant trends or changes in riverine operations in Vietnam, a co-operative enterprise of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy.  Looking back from the vantage point of early 1972, this study attempts to reconstruct the events and describe the situation as it was from 1966 through 1969, using official records, reports, and personal interviews. The author is indebted especially to the officers of the 9th Infantry Division who helped in the research and writing of this monograph. Major Johnnie H. Corns was initially the intelligence officer and later the operations officer of the 2d Brigade during 1966 and 1967. His research, writing, and continuous editing have been indispensable in preparation of this study. Colonel Lucien F,. Bolduc, Jr., commanded the 3d Battalion, 47th Infantry, and was later operations officer of the 9th Infantry Division during preparations for and initial conduct of riverine operations. His contributions in preparing the 2d Brigade of the Old Reliables for these operations and in preparing this manuscript are fully appreciated. Colonel Thomas C. Loper, 9th Infantry Division Engineer in 1967 and 1968, contributed both in the enactment and the recording of the riverine story. The author also wishes to acknowledge the typing assistance of Miss Ann Faherty and Miss Judith A. Secondo, who patiently saw the manuscript through several drafts.

Washington, D. C. 
15 August 1972 

WILLIAM B. FULTON
Major General, U.S. Army

The following pages are courtesy of the United States Army (don't forget to use your browser's back button to return to this site)

Chapter
Page
I BACKGROUND 3
Previous American Experience 3
French River Warfare in Indochina, 1945-1954 8
The Mekong Delta 17
Enemy Forces 21
Republic of Vietnam Forces 23
US Forces 24
The Situation in 1966 24
II THE CONCEPT OF A RIVERINE FORCE 26
III RIVERINE PREPARATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES AND IN VIETNAM 42
Review of the Mobile Afloat Force Concept 45
9th Infantry Division Studies the Mobile Afloat Force 51
The Coronado Conference and Doctrine 52
Final Decisions on Deployment 56
2d Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, Arrives in Vietnam 58
Rung Sat Special Zone Operational Training 59
IV INITIAL DELTA OPERATIONS 68
Movement to Dong Tam 68
Final Mobile Riverine Force Preparations 70
2d Brigade Operations 76
Mobile Riverine Force Campaign Plan 85
V PLANS AND OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES FOR THE MOBILE RIVERINE FORCE 89
Intelligence 89
Planning 90
Operational Concept and Procedures 93
VI III CORPS OPERATIONS AND THE THREAT TO DONG TAM 103
Can Giuoc Operation 104
Go Cong Operation 110
Further Can Giuoc Operations 112
Dinh Tuong Operation 120
The Mobile Riverine Force Returns to Ill Corps 125
Ben Luc Operation 125
VII CAM SON TO THE RACH RUONG CANAL 128
Dinh Tuong Province and Coronado V 128
Coronado IX 135
Six Months in Retrospect 143
VIII TET OFFENSIVE OF 1968 AND US REACTION 148
IX PACIFICATION AND KIEN HOA PROVINCE 167
The Third Battalion 167
Operation SEA LORDS 179
X CONCLUSIONS AND SUMMARY 185
GLOSSARY 195
Chart
1 River Assault Squadron Organization 61
2 Mobile Riverine Force Command Structure 88
Diagrams
1 A Typical French River Convoy in North Vietnam 12
2 French Assault Landing 13
8 Riverine Operation and Base Defense 38
4 Foot Disease Incident Rate 66
5 Artillery Barge Towing Position 73
6 Typical Company Landing Formation 100
Tables
1 Viet Minh River Ambushes, 5 January-16 February 1954 15
2 SEA LORDS Operations, November 1968-January 1969 172
3 US River Craft Transferred to Vietnam Navy in June 1969 178
Maps
1 The Rivers of French Indochina 9
2 The Mekong Delta 17
3 Delta Situation: July 1966 22
4 Ap Bac 2 Operation: 2 May 1967 77
5 Cam Son Operation: 15 May 1967 80
6 Can Giuoc Operation: 19 June 1967 105
7 Go Cong Operation: 4-6 July 1967 109
8 Northern Can Giuoc 116
9 Dinh Tuong Operation: July-August 1967 118
10 Ben Luc Operation: 20 August 1967 126
11 Ban Long and Cam Son Operations: September 1967 130
12 Kien Hoa 134
13 Rach Ruong Canal Operation: 4 December 1967 140
14 Vinh Long 152
15 Can Tho 157
16 Areas of Riverine Operations: 1967-1969 192
Illustrations
Soldier Struggles Through Delta Mud 18
LST With Armored Troop Carriers and Monitors 28
Self-Propelled Barracks Ship With Ammi Barge 30
Armored Troop Carrier 32
Command and Communications Boat 33
Assault Support Patrol Boat 36
Monitor 37
Landing Craft Repair Ship 48
A Wet But Peaceful Landing 65
Non-Self-Propelled Barracks Ship 71
Artillery Barge 72
Artillery Fires From Barges Anchored on River Bank 74
Helicopter Barge 75
Armored Troop Carriers in Convoy Battle Line 81
Mobile Riverine Force Briefing Aboard USS Benewah 93
Troops Prepare to Embark From Ammi Barges 95
Monitors and Assault Support Patrol Boats Head in to Shore 96
Assault Craft Going in To Land Troops 97
Troops Go Ashore From Armored Troop Carrier 99
Armored Troop Carrier With Helipad 113
Portable Firing Platform 137
Armored Troop Carriers Move Up the My Tho River 184
All illustrations are from Department of Defense files

If you have Adobe Acrobat then Please use the following Order Form

~ PDF Order Form #1 ~

If all else fails then print the following Order Form

~ Order Form #2 ~

 

Back to Main Products Page --- Back to MRFA Home Page