The following is a plan prepared by the Viet Cong to attack the bridge located at Ben Luc. The plan was captured by the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry at Binh Trinh Dong Village (XS 652656) on 30 March 1967. The plan is included in this report to show the amount of detail which is normally indicative of the detail employed by the Viet Cong prior to initiating any operation of this nature.
COMBAT PLAN RAIDING
1. ENEMY SITUATION-
The enemy forces camped at Ben Luc area is 1 Bn, consisting of 395 men, commanded by Captain Gian & 4 US Officers. They are the 3rd Bn, 50th Regt, 25th Div, their Hqs is located at the end of the bridge in the direction of Ben-Nhut.
WEAPONS: 1 81mm mortar
1 57mm recoiless rifle
4 60mm mortars
4 50 cal machine guns
26 submachine guns
Individual weapons: rifles
There are 4 combat boats armed with 16 machine guns
There are local forces and popular forces deployed in this zone especially to protect the bridge, 4 outposts, and a tank at each end of the bridge.
There are 6 soldiers deployed to protect each support of the bridge. They are armed. They will shoot at any suspicious object floating close to the bridge. There are also 2 soldiers patrolling each span of the bridge. On bothe ends of the bridge there are 4 outposts about 250 meters away located near the bank of the river. There are 2 squads in each outpost. There are soldier's barracks on both sides of the bridge. There are 3 men guarding each end of the bridge. The generator is located about 30 meters from the bridge on the Binh Nhut side of the river. Combat boats patrol the river every 1 or 2 hours from the bridge out to 700 meters. They use searchlights on the river and on both banks. On each span of the bridge there are 4 searchlights. Both sides of th river are also lighted for 250 meters by lamp posts. The bridge is very brightly lighted. When they see something suspicious they also electrify the water around the bridge. This Bn has deployed 1 company on each end of the bridge, the rest of the Bn is camped all around the bridge area. The Bn also patrols Binh Nhut and Binh Duc Strategic Hamlets. These forces sometime attack our perimeter. The 4 combat boats are docked next to the bridge supports. There is 1 guard in each boat when they are docked. There is 1 company stationed in Binh Nhut Strategic Hamlet now.
II OUR SITUATION
Both Binh Duc and Binh Nhut are Strategic Hamlets. These are enemy controlled areas. The enemy has firm control of these areas. The houses are crowded very close together. 2/3's of the people are neutral and 1/3 are families of VC and are working for us in propaganda missions. We have a few secret cells in these hamlets but they are weak.
III TERRAIN AND TOPOGRAPHY
The Van Co Dong river begins in Tay Ninh and flows into Van Lang
river which flows into the sea. The river is about 350 meters wide
at the bridge, the current is very fast. This river has a bridge
Ben Luc on highway4. Ben Luc Bridge is about 518 meters long. Maximum load for the bridge is 36 tons. The bridge is strategic for the enemy since highway 4 links Saigon to the Mekong Delta. This highway is usually patrolled and well guarded. There are ARVN outposts along the highway and Americans are camped from Ben Luc Market to Go Den along the highway. On the Long An side of the bridge there is a road which runs through Binh Duc village and leads to Ben Da, then runs past the outpost at Ba Dong stream. Natural obstacles--on both sides of the river at binh Nhut village there are many coconut trees that can be used for cover and concealment. So movement is very easy.
The Binh Nhut side of the river from Bhin Duc to Cho Tao market is a liberated area. On both sides of the river there are many bushes, but sometimes there are sampans with people fishing along the riverbank from Binh Chanh to the Ben Luc bridge a distance of about 150 meters. The natural obstacles will aid us when we approach the objective. On the river there are no sampans, on the banks of the river the enemy has a double barbed wire fence which surrounds this area. This is a very populated area, the houses are very close together. There are ruins of a large shrine on the river bank 800 meters from the bridge. Sometimes during the night the enemy sends Recon patrols which come to the shrine. There is a river in this area that passes through Binh Chanh and Binh Nhut outpost a distance of about 2 kilometers. This river has 4 small branches that run alongside the Van Co Dong river, Rach Dien stream and Rach Tua stream. The distance from Thu Doan canal to the Binh Duc side of the river to Ben Luc bridge is 5 kilometers. On the river Ben Luc bridge to Ba Dong stream is 300 meters. This area is clear of brush from Ba Dong stream to Thu Doan canal. The terrain will aid in seizing the objective. The distance from Ong Thong stream to Ben Luc bridge is 180 meters on the river bank. There is a new life hamlet along this distance. There are 5 barbed wire entanglements surrounding it. 700 meters from the bridge next to the river bank, there are several houses and gardens and a saw mill, where enemy forces usually camp. In the area of this strategic hamlet there are 6 small streams which run from the Van Co Dong river into the ricefields. Cho Moi canal is 250 meters from the bridge. On the Saigon side of the river there is the Ben Luc market which has many people on this side of the stream, which has good natural concealment. There are sampans of migrating people located 500 meters from the bridge toward An Than village.
Our cell mission is to investigate and study point L.I. which is on VC> Our Commander has decided that our cell will raid and destroy point L.I. in order to defeat the enemy's attempt at rural pacification and cut the highway connecting Saigon with the Mekong Delta. When we attack we will meet many hardships and advantages such as:
1. We have studied the whole enemy situation from the inside.
2. We have kept informed of the enemy's defenses.
3. We know the terrain and natural obstacles well.
4. We are ready to fight.
1. Our explosives are very heavy to transport.
2. It is very difficult to transport explosives to the objective because of the bright lights and swift current.
3. In order to seize the objective we must cross many streams and pass through many strategic hamlets and travel across many swamps; this will be very difficult.
According to the situation above, our cell will have many advantages and disadvantages. We must try to overcome all obstacles. We must try to affix a pulley on the objective. Even if conditions are difficult we will carry out our mission. We will destroy the L.I. point in order to disrupt the transportation of the enemy who plan an offensive against us in the dry season.
a. Prior to combat.
1. The 1st spearhead consists of 4 elements.
a. The Destruction element consists of 2 comrades. Re is in charge of the 1st stage, Anh is in charge of the 2nd stage.
b. The 1st Medic Section has 4 laborers commanded by Rong.
c. The deployment element is commanded by Sau Minh and is responsible for the avenues of approach and withdrawal.
d. The sampan element will transport the explosives and place them in the water. It consists of 6 comrades commanded by Anh.
2. The attack element consists of 5 cells:
a. 1st Cell-Comrade Nan is #1, Comrade Le is #2, they will carry 2 pulleys, 1 pistol and 1 grenade, and will hold the wire from the riverbank to the objective.
b. 2d Cell-Trang is #3, Anh is #4, they are in charge of paying out the wire from the riverbank to the bridge in support of the 1st cell.
c. 3d Cell-Is comprised of 3 comrades - Van is #5, he will attach the wire to the explosives, Thien is #6 he will pay out the electric wire, Xuan is #7, he will pay out the electric line at 5 meter intervals.
d. 4th Cell-has 2 comrades Dun is #8, Xien is no.9, mission is to carry the batteries to the firing point, then stay their and await further orders.
e. 5th Cell- has 2 comrades, Ut is #10, Phuong is #11, mission is to pull the wire for the 2d cell after it has been connected to the explosives. The explosive transportation element which will transport the explosive from the departure point to the water position must be on time.
3. The 2d spearhead consists of 2 elements: the support elements & the medical service element, which are divided into 3 cell each.
a. 1st Cell- Thno & Tno, armed with 2 CKC rifles, mission to stand at the mouth of the La Bong stream to observe enemy activity.
b. 3d Cell- is the mortar cell, will be deployed at Da Su and the medical service element is comprised of 1 medic and 4 laborers with 2 sampans. They will be deployed at Ong Pho stream.
4. The sabotage device consist of two mines, each one is 1,000 kilograms, 1200 meters of electric wire, 200 batteries, 2 pulleys, 2 (illegible) 600 meters nylon rope and 400 meters of rope.
D. During Combat:
1. To transport the explosive, A element must travel along waterways. They will travel by 2 motorized sampans to Dinh Nhut, there they will turn off the motors, then they will paddle to the "water position" which is located at the mouth of the Dinh Chanh river where there will be men waiting for them. They must arrive at the mouth of the Dinh Chanh river at exactly 8 o'clock. The attack will move by land to the water position and wait there for the deployment element to report on the situation. The deployment cell and the medical service must come to the predetermined position, if they come early they must await for the other elements to deploy.
2. No. 1, 2, 3, and 10 will carry 2 rolls of nylon rope and 2 pulleys to the "fire position", Nos 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 will go to the "water position" and tighten the mines. The end of the rope will be passed from man to man by their numbers. They will push the 2 mines to the "firing position" then wait there. No's 3 and 10 will play out the roll of rope to no 1, then No 2 will tie it to the object. After this has been accomplished, No 10 will tighten it to No. 3. Then No 3 and No 4 will take the rope and tie it to No 5's explosives. Then 3 & 4 will take another rope and tie it to the bottom of No's 6 & 7 explosives. Then prepare to play out the electric wire and tie the wire to the bottom of all the explosives. After this has been done No 3 & 4 step by step will pull No's 5 & 6 explosive and play out the rope and wire at the bottom of the explosives coordinating with 7 & 8, then they will pull the battery box to the side of the river and wait for orders. No 1 & 2 will seize the objective and tie a rope to it, they will float something on the river to Da Bong Stream. 6 comrades will go by sampan to the "water position" and give them to the attacking element. Then 5 of them will return to Dinh Nhut factory and wait there. The 6th man will join the attack element. If no 1 & 2 cannot seize the objective they must drop No 3 & 4 pulleys. They must then continue their attack in the 2d stage, and No 10 & 11 will play out the rope to the objective and tie it there, and throw the other end into water for the current to carry to Da Bong stream. They will then contact no 1 & 2, the other members will then carry out their missions as outlined above.
3. B Spearhead at exactly 8 o'clock the support element carrying 2 CKC, 1 submachine gun and 2 machineguns must be in position with foxholes prepared and ready. The mortar cell must be present at a predetermined position, and the medical elements with 4 laborers must be at Ong Pho stream. The support cell must seize the river. Thuo & Tho carrying 2 CIC must stand at Da Bong stream to watch the activity at enemy cement pillar.
C. After Combat-
1. A spearhead: When the explosives blow uo No 6 & 7 will draw up the wire and reroll it, No 3 & 4 will draw back the rope, No 8 & 9 will tighten the battery box, the all elements withdraw to Dinh Nhut factory, check the soldiers then withdraw to a safe area.
2. B spearhead: After the explosion the support element will not fire and withdraw to Ong Pho stream then with the medic and other elements withdraw to safe area.
1. One medic and 1 nurse and 4 laborers with stretchers, led by Rong are located at Dinh Chanh stream with local cadreman.
2. B element: 1 medic and 4 laborers with stretchers, led by Phu are located with 2 sampans and local cadreman at Ong Pho stream.
1. Will reassemble at Dinh Nhut factory to check their strength.
2. B Spearhead - Will reassemble at Ong Pho stream with the machinegun team and Recon team and will check their strength.
Estimate of the Situation:
1. A SPEARHEAD:
When Nos 1 & 2 carry the rope toward the objective, if they are discovered the CKC cell should open fire at the combat ships in order to signal the machinegun cell. When the CKC cell opens fire this is the signal for the machinegun cell to open fire on the bridge and the mortar team will start firing on the soldiers camped next to the generator in Dinh Nhut which is about 80 meters from the bridge. Nos 1 & 2 must quietly attach the pulleys to the iron pillar, Nos 3 & 4 must quickly attach the explosives then withdraw to the firing point.
2. B SPEARHEAD:
In case they are discovered by the enemy everyone must find another way to get to their positions on time. If the explosives are not blown up they should be withdrawn after receiving the order to do so.
3. A & B SPEARHEAD:
If someone is wounded they should go to the aid station where medical aid will be available.
4. If the explosives don't blow up Comrade Anh is in charge of recovering them.
5. If the nylon rope gets snagged Comrade most swim over and free it and put it in the river where the current will carry it to Miss Tu's house where Comrade P will see it.
6. The situation is quiet the ship will go down Rach Tao river, turn into Oa Dong River, and then come to Dinh Nhut where there is a dump truck.
When the situation is not quiet and there are ships on the river, us will have to move toward Dinh Chanh.
7. Although the Dinh Nhut post is deployed we will still move to
be at the north of Van Dinh Chanh river at exactly 8 o'clock.
*This captured plan was published in 9th Division "OPERATIONAL REPORT-LESSONS LEARNED FOR QUARTERLY PERIOD ENDING 31 JULY 1967."
Click here to see July 24, 1968 article of "Old Reliable" on VC destruction of Ben Luc Bridge
We knew what they were up to and still couldn't stop them.
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