View Full Version : AAR The Battle at Ph Tnaot (From the NVA)
From the Journal of CPT Triet:
9 May 1970-We arrived here several days ago having crossed the O Tnaot to avoid further battle with the imperialists. The village has little food to scavenge as the People's Army had been here before. We have completed settling in and have built some hasty defenses in case they follow us. Hopefully we will get some rest and food supplies will finally reach us.
10 May-Our rest is short lived. Shortly after noon the Imperialist allies of the lackies in Saigon are seen approaching on the main road to the SE. My brave Bo Doi prepare to ambush the dogs. We must defeat them decisively as there is no where to flee-nothing but rice paddies with little cover from the 'devils from the sky'. We can defeat them on the ground but have no defenses against attack from the air. Hopefully the monsoon rains will keep them on the ground.
We opened the battle with 82mm mortar harassing fire at imperialists advancing rapidly in the open without using cover. We will teach those dogs a lesson. If nothing else we slowed down their advance. But hopefully we did some damage. My men are instructed to hold their fire until they have good shots. We do not have the numbers or firepower to trade fire with the imperialists.
I am glad that we have a mortar assigned directly to us. We canít always count on getting support from higher headquarters.
The imperialists seem to be trying to maneuver around our left flank through the village and rice paddies near the southern limits of our position. We adjust our mortar fire to blanket them and shift our fire to those men. We have yet to take any losses. The imperialist losses seem to be mounting. LT Khoan directs fire at this flanking movement and reports the enemy is suffering heavy losses including leaders.
The rest of the enemy force appears satidfied to stay in cover and try to suppress our fire. This is fine with us as he appears to have enough men to overrun our positions if he can get close enough.
So far we have not taken any losses and the bodies of many of the enemy are a visible sign of our effective shooting. We can win this if the enemy is not reinforced.
The first of my men have died and I am sure more will follow. But I hope to kill 10 of the Imperialists for every one of mine. It is the only way to win. I must bleed him before the scales turn and make him pay dearly for entering Cambodia. I do not know why Hanoi insists we hold this worthless pigstie of a village. My men and I would rather withdraw to the jungle. I remind my men to kill their leaders first. My morter fire appears to be be helping.
The imperialists continue to pressure my right flank. I start shifting troops to the right to bring more firepower to bear and to balance the forces. If I do not meet move for move, he will find little difficulty in 'eating this elephant'. My only hope is he does not bring reinforcments to bear on my left flank before I have secured the win and try to withdraw.
Another of my men has died. That is the way. We will win by perserverance. The Imperialists will tire of the war and leave.
The enemy continues to attack my right but does not appear to want to close with us. And I am glad. We are outnumbered and if they close they can overrun us. So far with our mortar we have the advantage in fire power.
Without the mortar this would be a one sided battle.
In the distance we can here sound of enemy reinforcements-helicopter gun ships approaching from the SE. So farI see no troop carriers. I direct my one hvy machine gun to fire on the helos.. Maybe we'll get a lucky hit before they manage to inflict too many casualties. The balance seems to be turning. My mortar continues firing on the main concentration of the enemy trying to turn our right flank. The rest of my men try to burrow deeper into their positions knowing that death from the sky is coming. It is too late to escape into the distant jungle. We must stay and fight.
Firing on the Imperialist helicopter might have been a mistake-they have moved out of the line of sight of my MG which is the only weapon I have with the range and power to drive off the helicopters. It might have been better to let them close the range. On the otherhand it seems to have made him more cautious as they fly to the south of the battle on my right flank out of range of my weapons but still able to fire.
As I predicted their firepower has contributed to doubling my losses to 4. However he still remains cautious and will not close with me in the south.
This I feel is a critical mistake. He continues to exchange fire for little gain and by his refusal to close with me allows me to fire my mortar with less fear
of hitting my own men.
Assault is always any iffy proposition but he has the odds with him. Thank the spirits for his lack of agression. I feel I can draw out the firefight as long as he doesn't close. My force is composed of small 4 man fire teams while the imperialsit squads are usually twice that with even more firepower. Also at close range he can fire canister with effect from his grenade launcher.
In this 'game' you must learn your strenghts and your enemy's weakness and exploit both.
My losses are multiplying-mostly from the helicopters. I hope they run out of rockets before I run out of men. I am starting to pull my right flank back as he has massed most of his men there. I continue to shift my forces to the right and am trying to get my HMG a LOS to those helicopters. I do not think he can achieve victory if he doesn't close to assault. If we exchange shots I feel we will win-assuming those helicopters don't rip me a part first.
By not closing me, he is also lowering the risk to my own troops as I fire my Mortar blindly. I have to keep my men spread out to minimize losses but it makes me vulnerable to assault-He outnumbers me man for man and his squads are usually 10-12 while mine are 4 man.
My opponent seems to be reading my thoughts. :P His troops start closing with my right flank. My men have pinned the units in front of my position there and are taking pains to take out his leaders. The helicopters are a pain in the backside but it appears one helicopter has left the area. My mortar continues to apply harassing fire on his main effort. My HMG is now in position to fire on his helos. Of course they can fire back.:cry: I am swinging units not engaged to take him in his rear and right flank although I will still leave small units to cover key points (objectives) in my defense.
We appear to be winning but there is too much daylight left and he can reinforce his attack faster than we can. Time will tell.
My losses mount but we still hold the keypoints in our defensive position. I hope for either reinforcements or permission to withdraw. This should be no problem except for the units to the south. Either way they will be used as sacrificial pawns. we barely held off the last assault in the south. Our only hope is to keep his forces pinned. One of his helicopters is on the ground to the south. It continues to spray our positions in the south but appears unable to fly. I have reinforced the southern end of the jungle and moved some sections around to his rear. Hopefully this will hold him off long enough.
I do not have enough men to risk in an counterattack if he succeeeds in gaining control of the southern strongpoint and will pronbably have to accept a drawn battle-better that than losing more men. Sooner or later the Imperialists will tire of fighting. We will not tire until Viet Nam is united under Ho Chi Minh and our country is free of invaders. I hope the Chinese aid does not have too high a price.
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