Operation Giant Slingshot: A History (Part 4)
On 22 May GSS units began conducting coordinated land / waterborne
ambushes. These were later dubbed Bushwack ops. The waterborne ambush had been highly
successful but the sophistication of the tactic added two things to it. First it was
variance to counter any advance made by the VC toward combating the WBA and secondly it
increased the possibility of contact or kill in case of contact. Bushwack ops employed a
platoon of U.S. Army troops, preferably recon troops, Rangers or raiders, use to fighting
in small units. The platoon was split in two groups and embarked on two boats. Upon
insertion of the boats in ambush the platoon would deploy inland approximately 200 meters.
It can be readily seen why the WBA was enhanced by this new twist. The troops extended the
"Possibility of Contact" envelope. They provided advance warning of approaching
VC. The troops preferred this type of ambush because they had mobility, greater secrecy of
insertion, .50 caliber machine gun support and an instantaneous extraction vehicle should
it be necessary. This Navy-Army team got plenty of solid contact and kills, and is
responsible for breaking up of VC movements, disruption of commo-liaison routes in the
accomplishment of the interdiction mission.
June can only be described as a month of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers. The entire month
is laced with tricky maneuvers by the VC and equally tricky moves by the GIANT SLINGSHOT
forces. These maneuvers were by no means confined to this month but they were in high
evidence in June.
On the 31st of May and again on the 3rd of June, hawsers were discovered in an area
upriver from Tra Cu. The first was discovered as a result of a Hoi Chanh rallier
disclosing the fact that the span was used to raft supplies across the river and possibly
high-line. The second hawser was entangled in the screws of a transiting LCM-8 on 3 June.
This tricky maneuver had many possibilities and was difficult to detect either in use or
when stowed. Sweep gear was streamed by RAG units after the incidents and lead to the
discovery of two more hawsers all within the same general area. Extreme tidal conditions
in the area and increased attention to crossing gave rise to increased cache discoveries
during June. However, the total monthly tonnage of 4.5 tons was well below the average of
approximately 15 tons per month.
On 5 June, Operation Barrier Reef East was discontinued. The stretch of assets along the
Great Barrier was continuing and GSS felt it's first pinch for assets when River patrol
Division 571 moved from the Barrier Reef East canals to the upper Saigon River to form a
new interdiction group. Random patrols were made on the canals by the Tuyen Nhon based
boats with the intent of maintaining a presence in the AO.
June saw the SEAL platoon, which had been staged in Ben Luc permanently in May, conduct
valuable intel gathering missions at all points up and down the Vam Co Dong.
The U.S. Army Air Cushioned Vehicles assigned to the 3rd/Bde of the 9th U.S. Inf Div
staged out of NSA Ben Luc and conducted joint ops in and around the Ben Luc, Tan An, Thu
Thua areas and up the Bo Bo Canal, long know to be a major VC infiltration route.
On 13 June, the Vietnamese RAIDS completed their training and indoctrination and were
given full responsibility for the area of the rivers from the confluence to Tan An
(RAID-70) and to Ben Luc (RAID-71) respectively. While combined operations continued to be
conducted in this and other tactical areas of responsibility, these areas were under the
complete command of RAID commanders now assigned as Task Unit commanders. The performance
of these two RAID's in Operation GIANT SLINGSHOT has been exemplary. They performed every
mission assigned and were quick to correct any mistakes made. LCDR Tieu, VNN, was placed
in charge of both RAID's and provided the driving force needed for combined operations and
conduct them in a coordinated manner.
Just as a plan to expand the operation in the Can Giouc area was being completed, a sudden
surge of enemy activity dictated it be held in abeyance. GIANT SLINGSHOT had been ordered
to support the 3rd/bde of the 9th Inf Div in the area of Can Giouc District of Long An
Province. In order to fulfill this task, CDR Arie C. A. Sigmond USN, who had relieved CDR
Murphy on 13 May, and who assumed CTG 194.9, decided to relocate some of his assets in
order to allow RivDiv 573 to move into the Can Giouc area to directly support the 6th/31st
Battalion and conduct interdiction operations. This maneuver was postponed and later
dropped because of increased activity in the Go Dau Ha, Ben Keo, Tay Ninh City area.
On 9 June, the Tay Ninh operation was expanded from the north-south WT 19 grid line
crossing the Vam Co Dong to within one kilometer of the Cambodian Border. Ten PBRs and
five RAC had been positioned at the hastily formed ATSB at Ben Keo, due south of Tay Ninh
City. This addition was welcomed by the Commanding General of the 25th U.S. Inf Div
because of the increasing activity in and around Tay Ninh City. The General appreciated
the Navy's presence in interdicting the waterways, as the activity in the area took a
sharp rise between 17-21 June. Five and six firefights were the average precluding any
shifting or spreading thinner of US assets. On 20 June, HA(L)-3-Det-7 was stationed in Tay
Ninh West to provide quick reaction air support to the forces in Ben Keo and Go Dau Ha.
Det-3 had by then been moved from Moc Hoa to YRBM-20 on the Mekong River at An Long to
better protect the Barrier Reef West units.
The newly formed RAIDs 73, 74, and 75 steamed out of Saigon on the day of commissioning
and around GIANT SLINGSHOT rivers for a "show of force" throughout the delta.
The RAIDs sailed up the Vam Co Dong to Ben Keo then back to the confluence of the Van Co
Tay. RAID 73 dropped out of the "show" at Tuyen Nhon and was chopped to CTG
194.9 opcon at the end of June.
In July, the U.S. Navy teamed with the U.S. Army and was credited with saving Tay Ninh
City from the Viet Cong. Intel predicted that the VC were planning to attack Tay Ninh City
and occupy it long enough to establish a provisional government. They anticipated that all
nations of the world, tired of the Vietnam conflict, would rush to recognize the
provisional government with it's capital in Tay Ninh City (the third largest city in South
Vietnam). Thus, one of the key battles of the war was approaching and the U.S. was
determined to deny the enemy Tay Ninh. The 25th Inf Div dug in for the attack and on 6
July COMNAVFORV executed a contingency plan already established to concentrate the forces
in the Tay Ninh area to protect the city. This operation was named Operation Double Shift.
It called for 48 hour notice to relocate assets from other parts of the delta in order to
triple the GIANT SLINGSHOT force in Go Dau Ha and Ben Keo. The units were only given four
hours notice and all units were on station within 24 hours after receiving their orders.
Two River Patrol Divisions 574 and 513 sailed from Binh Thuy to Go Dau Ha and two other
River Patrol Divisions, 532 and 531, sailed to Tay Ninh City (Ben Keo) from My
Tho (Webmaster's note:
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