Việt Cộng Intelligence Report on the “Enemy” in Phước Tuy

Robert Hall33 PAVN Regiment, Articles, ARVN, Australian Army, Vietnam War1 Comment

By Ernie Chamberlain.

In the afternoon of 27 November 1967, 12 Platoon, D Company, 7RAR engaged about 30 Việt Cộng near an unoccupied base camp at YS 336708 – about 10 kilometres north-east of 1 ATF’s Núi Đất base, during Operation Forrest. Casualties in the engagement were reported as one Australian killed and 17 wounded, and three Việt Cộng killed (by body count) – probably VC Châu Đức District elements.[1]

VC documents recovered by D Company, 7RAR after the engagement included a “Việt Cộng Intelligence Report” – probably prepared by an element of the VC Bà Biên Province Headquarters or – more likely, the Châu Đức District Headquarters, that detailed ARVN and Territorial Force elements, US, and Australian forces in Phước Tuy Province. The Australians were referred to as “chư hầu” – ie “vassals” or “satellites” of the US. The report – in a columned broadsheet A-3 format, was undated and unsigned, but appeared to have been prepared in early-mid 1967 as it refers to Australian troops at Dốc Hamlet, Đất Đỏ – ie termed the “The Horseshoe” by Australian forces.[2]

In summary, the VC Intelligence Report detailed the “enemy” strength in Phước Tuy as totaling 4,985 personnel – including “1,500 Australians at the Núi Đất strong-point”, “220 Australians at the airfield in the Nhà Sở Plantation” (ie Bình Ba village), and “600 Australians at the Dốc Hamlet, Đất Đỏ (ie The Horseshoe) – a total of 2,320 Australians.[3] The “enemy equipment” list in the Report included six 155mm artillery pieces, sixteen 105mm howitzers, and 38 M113 APCs.

The VC Intelligence Report on “the enemy” is incomplete. It does not include significant locations of ARVN forces eg in Bà Rịa Town (Phước Lễ ): the ARVN Sector Headquarters, the A & L Company, the Provincial Reconnaissance Unit; the Vạn Kiếp National Training Centre on Bà Rịa Town’s eastern outskirts; other centres such as Đất Đỏ Town, Long Điền Town, Xuyên Mộc District, Long Hải (ARVN training centres), the various Territorial force elements, nor the Government military outposts on Routes 23 and 44.

Much of the copy of the Intelligence Report – as produced by the US/RVNAF Combined Document Exploitation Center (Saigon)[4], is illegible (see the image below). However, the following information can be discerned from it:

Tabulated Broadsheet (as four A-4 sheets):

Title: A Summary Listing of Enemy Forces and Posts (Bản Tổng Hợp Lợc Lượng Đồng Bót Địch)

Hòa Long Sub-Sector – 117 comprising:  Regional Forces (RF – throughout the Report, the VC used the obsolescent term: “Bảo An” for the RF) – 65; Militia – 53; Police 20. Captain … … Kiêm.

Núi Đất strong-point – 1,500 (Vassals – ie Australian troops); Artillery troops – 200; Armoured troops – 300; four 155mm artillery pieces; eight 105mm howitzers, 17 M113s; Royal Australian Regiment.

Bình Ba airstrip at Nhà Sở – 285 (220 of whom are vassals); Artillery troops – 100; Armoured troops – 120; two 155mm artillery pieces; four 105mm howitzers, 15 M113s; Australian regiment, 614 RF Coy. Captain Vinh, Second Lieutenant Liêm.

Route (Lộ) 77 – Gallia Plantation ((?)); 350 main force, 48th Regiment/10th ARVN Division.

Dốc (Slope) Village, Đất Đỏ – 600 (Vassals), Australian regiment (ie The Horseshoe).

Đức Mỹ Hamlet – 53 Special Forces (Biệt Kích), US.

Đức Thạnh Sub-Sector – 159, with four US personnel, 100 ? RF, 26 Militia, 11 Police, 22 Artillery troops, two 105mm howitzers. 619 Company. Captain Nguyễn Văn Be.

Bình Giã Village – 219: ie 219 Popular Force troops.

Phú Mỹ (Phước Biên Special Sector[5]) – 800 troops, six US, 700 main force, 20 Artillery troops, 80 armoured troops, two 105mm howitzers, six M113s.

Phú Mỹ Post – 80:  RF; Second Lieutenant Quê.

Ông Trịnh Post – 95: RF – a Hòa Hao ((ie Buddhist sect)) company.

Phước Hòa Post – 78:  50 RF, 28 Militia.

Phước Lộc – 118:  80 main force – 10th ARVN Div [6], 30 Popular Force.

Phước Hòa Hamlet: 80 main force – 10th ARVN Div.

Long Cát Hamlet – 45: 45 Popular Force.

Chu Hải – canal bridge watch-tower: 20 Militia;

Chu Hải Hamlet – 121: 80 main force – 10th ARVN Div, 41 Popular Force.

Phước ((?)) Hải Hamlet – 100: 80 main force, 20 Militia;

Hồng Da ((?)) Hamlet – 30.

Bà Trâu Hamlet – 35 : 35 Militia.

Bà Trâu Post – 50: 50 RF.

TOTAL : 4,985 comprising 10 US;  2,320 Vassals ((1 ATF – Núi Đất; Bình Ba airstrip; Dốc (Slope) Village, Đất Đỏ – and plus: Artillery troops – 300; Armoured troops – 420 (not all Australians); six 155mm artillery pieces (US) – including four at Núi Đất and two at Bình Ba; 12 105mm howitzers including eight at Núi Đất and four at Bình Ba; 32 M113s – including 17 at Núi Đất and 15 at Bình Ba)); 1,370 Main Force ((ARVN)); 455 Regional Forces; 53 ARVN Rangers; 191 Militia; 343 Popular Force; 31 Police, 342 artillery troops (including Australians), 500 armoured troops (including Australians), six US 155mm artillery guns, 16 105mm howitzers (including 12 Australian howitzers), and 38 M113s (including six at the Phú Mỹ (Phước Biên) post.


The VC Intelligence assessment of “enemy” strength in Phuoc Tuy Province.

Reverse of the A-3 Broadsheet – Summary Recapitulation

Reverse “Summary Recapitulation” [7]:

Hòa Long Sub-Sector – 117; Núi Đất strong-point – 1,500 (Vassals); Bình Ba airstrip at Nhà Sở –  285  (220 of whom are vassals); Route (Lộ) 77 Gallia Plantation/Đong Điều (?) – 350 (Vassals [8]); Dốc Village – Đất Đỏ – 600 (Vassals); Đức Mỹ Hamlet – 53; Đức Thạnh Sub-Sector – 158 with four US; Phú Mỹ (Phước Biên Special Sector) – 800 troops, six US, 700 (Vassals [9]); Phú Mỹ Post – 80; Ông Trịnh Post – 85; Phước Hòa Post – 28; Phước Lộc – 118.

[1] 1 ATF, INTSUM No. 331-67, 27 November 1967. AWM95, 1/4/69.

[2] The “enemy” bases included “Dốc (Slope) hamlet, Đất Đỏ – probably a reference to 1 ATF’s “The Horseshoe” base (YS 48494620), an extinct volcano crater immediately north of Đất Đỏ village – first permanently occupied by 1 ATF elements (D/5RAR) on 6 March 1967.

[3] Additional to the 2,320 Australian troops, a further 500 Australian personnel (200 artillery, 300 armour) are listed at Núi Đất; and 220 at the Bình Ba airstrip (100 artillery, 120 armour). Australian records show the strength of 1 ATF as at 30 June 1966 was 168 officers and 2,662 other ranks, totalling 2,830 (not including the battery of supporting US 155mm guns). On 30 September 1967, 1 ATF strength was 203 officers and 3,209 other ranks – totalling 3,413. In July 1969, its strength was 5,051.

[4] CDEC VCATT Item No. F034602772306.

[5] In early 1962, the Saigon Government established the headquarters of the Phước Biên Special Zone/Sector in a base beside Route 15 at YS 239773 – two kilometres north of Phú Mỹ village to control security across Biên Hòa, Long Khánh and Phước Tuy Provinces. The airstrip at Phước Biên was initially constructed by Australian PWs during WWII – an air photo of the Phước Biên/Phú Mỹ base and airfield was emailed to Major General (Retd) M.P.J. O’Brien, 1 Dec 2020.

[6] The 10th ARVN Division – headquartered in Xuân Lộc Town (Long Khánh Province), was retitled the 18th ARVN Division on 1 January 1967.

[7] This recapitulation/summary was written on the reverse of the A-3 broadsheet. It has transcription errors ie incorrectly showing ARVN Main Force as “Vassals” – see the following footnotes 8 and 9. CDEC analysts suggested that these summary figures – ie on the “reverse” of the broadsheet, were prepared in the third quarter of 1966. However, it is more likely that the broadsheet and the summary were prepared sometime after March 1967 as both documents include Australian troop (“600”) at Dốc Village – Đất Đỏ (“The Horseshoe”) see the preceding footnote 2).

[8] An error – as on the A-3 broadsheet, these 350 are not “vassals” but ARVN “main force”.

[9] An error – as on the A-3 broadsheet, these 350 are not “vassals” but ARVN “main force”.

One Comment on “Việt Cộng Intelligence Report on the “Enemy” in Phước Tuy”

  1. This article complements the longer Research Note 1/2020 “Communist Views of the 1st Australian Task Force” of February 2020 (35,372 words, 100 pages with maps and photographs, and including annexes on “Abuses and Atrocities by Australian Troops – As claimed by Vietnamese Sources”; “Vietnamese Names”; and a 15-page Bibliography).

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