It wasn't really required, they said it would be "nice to have you do one" type of thing. I'm not sure how it was received, and I am not sure how far up the chain it would go. But, basically (we didn't say bottom line in those days) it said it was a waste of my time to be in Vietnam!
The gist of my report is that:
1. The ARVN combat engineer battalion I had (remember earlier I told you that it wasn't long until I considered the battalion, mine) didn't need a combat engineer advisor. I and SSG Bell, until he got medevaced, went out on several operations, and they were excellent in: a. Demolitions. (1) Reducing road blocks. (2) Getting rid of tangled Eiffel Bridges. (3) They cleared rubble at Vinh Quoi. (4) They denied government facilities to the VC in Nam Can by blowing them up. b. Bridge building. 2. Given their lack of equipment, when compared to US troops, they were pretty good construction troops: a. They built an extension to the Bac Lieu Airstrip. b. They built a helipad at Bac Lieu. c. They built ARVN barracks at Bac Lieu and Can Tho. d. They built a rock unloading dock for the Delta Rock Plan in Soc Trang. e. They built security fencing and bunkers around the Can Tho Air Field. 3. There were two glaring weaknesses. a. Their mine sweeping was for the birds, mainly because they were impatient. This caused them to miss a mine which blew up the vehicle behind me on a road clearing operation right after TET! b. They were very weak in the logistics area, maintaining and repairing ordnance vehicles and equipment. (1) They would place requisitions for repair parts, but wouldn't follow up because they didn't want their supply company at IV Corps level to lose face. I jokingly told them they could lose the damn war because of face! (2) They relied too much upon the advisors to find material and supplies, and to grease the skids for them. 3. Another weakness they had was security. Granted, they were an engineer battalion, and not normally used for security. But, especially right after TET, and during Mini-TET in May 1968, the battalion was part of the night security for Soc Trang while the Province Infantry Battalion was out on search and avoid operations. The would place their out posts and listening posts out before darkness, "So we don't run into the VC," was the explanation given me when I asked! 4. I recommended: a. Abolishing the combat engineer advisor officer and enlisted positions in each divisional engineer battalion. b. That the combat engineering advisory position at corps level be beefed up, with combat engineer advisors going TDY to the divisions when required. c. That a Maintenance Warrant Officer be assigned as an advisor to the corps engineer advisory office. d. That two maintenance NCO advisors, one motor vehicle equipment, the other engineer equipment, be assigned at the battalion level.All this was finished at about 1500, and I went back to the BOQ I was sharing with my friend.
That evening we went to a roof top club and restaurant on top one of the BOQs, and had drinks and dinner, watching military "fireworks" off in the distance.
Strange damn war!
Two and a wake-up!