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"How many soldiers in an ARVN ACAV squad?" Topic


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526 hits since 12 Jun 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2018 12:56 p.m. PST

Have my ARVN ACAVs painted up and ready to roll this weekend. How many soldiers in each squad? Ambush Valley states 10, same as an infantry squad but I have also read that they cut the number down to 3 people manning the guns with several to act as a reaction force. Any guess? Seven?
Thanks

Joe

BrianW13 Jun 2018 1:41 p.m. PST

I would guess about eight men total. According to Charlie Don't Surf, they habitually fought mounted so dismounting like US squads would be fairly rare.

Ferd4523113 Jun 2018 2:01 p.m. PST

If functioning as ACAV (in the American sense) there would be 5. A TC, Driver, two 60 gunners and a fifth guy with an M-79 or a 203 to cover the rear. Sorry I can'tsay what Marvin the ARVN was doing. H

BrianW13 Jun 2018 6:02 p.m. PST

I found this in a report titled "Armor Organization for Counterinsurgency Operations in Vietnam" dated 1966 about ARVN Armored Cavalry units:

"There were numerous instances in which the Vietnamese armor units used M113's more as tanks than as armored personnel carriers. The troops that did this usually manned the M113s with fewer than a normal crew, usually 5 to 7 men instead of 12 and would carry much more than a normal basic load of ammunition. With this arrangement, there were no riflemen to dismount and fight and the M113 became a fighting vehicle."

The link for download is: PDF link
but be forewarned it is not a great copy.

GROSSMAN13 Jun 2018 8:54 p.m. PST

10, but 7 of them just ran away…

Legion 414 Jun 2018 6:02 a.m. PST

"There were numerous instances in which the Vietnamese armor units used M113's more as tanks than as armored personnel carriers.
The NLF/VC didn't have AFVs so yes that could and did work generally. But at Ap Bac in '63 link the exposed .50 cal in the TC hatch cost the ARVN a number of losses. Took the USA a bit of time to come up with a ACAV turret mod. Too long many believe !
The troops that did this usually manned the M113s with fewer than a normal crew, usually 5 to 7 men instead of 12 and would carry much more than a normal basic load of ammunition.
Generally whether CAV or Infantry formations, units were usually short what the TO&Es said. For a number of reasons.
With this arrangement, there were no riflemen to dismount and fight and the M113 became a fighting vehicle."
Yes, but sadly the M113 was very "fragile" in many situations. Sandbagging the deck in the troop compartment. To reduce the blast of booby traps, etc. Many times troops rode on top to increase their survival a little. And only get in the troop compartment when taking fire, etc. Even sandbagging the front hull helped a bit. We were still doing that in the mid-80s in the ROK along the DMZ. The "old timers" gave us some "wise council" frequently. And in the ROK we had the ACAV turret …

But regardless, the VC, NVA, etc., many times had RPGs/B40s. Could turn an M113 into burning scrap. The posting of chain link fence in front of M113's position was another "defensive" measure against the RPGs. When the M113 was stationary for an extended period of time.

I command an M113 Mech Co., '87-'89 at Benning. With a Mech Heavy Bde of the RDF. We took the lessons learn from Vietnam pretty seriously … We were told we'd not get the ACAV turret until deployed for combat. But in the ROK, in '84-'85 when I was with a forward deployed Mech Bn in the 2ID, we had them on most of our M113s . Since we were/are only under a "Truce" that started in '53. So we had the ACAV already… thankfully … we never needed it … evil grin

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2018 1:56 p.m. PST

Thanks guys great stuff. Brian, thanks for the link. That jives with what I have been reading. Think I will go with 7 as a start. The ARVN actually came up with the ACAV idea and used it effectively from what I have read. They were able too because until 1970 the Viet Cong had little in the way of effective anti tank weapons. ( Legion, troops were more fearful of mines than RPGs. 70% of vehicle kills were due to mines.) By 1970 anti tank RPG rounds were being seen. The US actually learned from the ARVN. Best book by far I have read is Vietnam Tracks by Dunstun.
Thanks

Joe

Legion 414 Jun 2018 2:47 p.m. PST

Yes, I know the mines/booby traps were very much "feared". As I said we sandbagged our tracks etc. on the DMZ. And in most cases those were a complete and "deadly" surprise in Vietnam, etc. Yes, the ARVN did come up with the first "ACAV" type mod. Like I said it took the US ARMY too long to copy it ! frown And of course avoiding being a WIA/KIA whether by mine or RPG, etc. is "preferable" … evil grin

And I have that book by Dunstan. Got in at the PX when I was in the ROK. wink

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2018 1:02 p.m. PST

Legion,
That is a great book isn't it. So you already knew all this stuff! I just found out about it in the last 2 weeks. So how many soldiers should I put in my ARVN squads? I was going to go with 7. I just rolled the platoon up last night. The LT is a idealistic young man from a well to do family who actually believes in the cause. ( Bet his family is pissed!) Problem is he stinks as a leader. Should be interesting.

Joe

Legion 415 Jun 2018 2:15 p.m. PST

Yes, very good book. But yes I have a working knowledge about the ARVN. But … TMP link
Plus …

link


Yes, from what I understand, not too many actually believed in the "cause" … One of the many reasons why there is "one" Vietnam today … for better or worse …

Blutarski22 Jun 2018 10:54 a.m. PST

Folks who were "on the ground" during that late SE Asian unpleasantness, please correct me if I'm wrong on this point.

My reading on the VN War suggests that certain ARVN formations fought well – Air Force, tankers, Marines, Rangers, those regular infantry formations commanded by honest motivated COs instead of disreputable uniformed politicians, crooks and cowards.

Interesting web page that illustrates the war from the ARVN soldiers' POV –

link

I don't recall who said it, but in paraphrase – "There is not such thing as a bad unit, only bad leaders".

B

Legion 423 Jun 2018 8:13 a.m. PST

I was not there … but generally what you say seems to make some sense.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2018 1:38 p.m. PST

Blutarski,
Agree. ARVN was riddled with poor political leadership which led to poorly motivated troops. There were pockets of well led, well motivated troops that fought quite well. My ACAV troops are average for the game system; same as line US troops. Their leaders are poor however. "Forsaken Warriors" by Toneseck (?) is a great book on the subject. He was an advisor to ARVN in 1970.

Joe

Legion 425 Jun 2018 2:41 p.m. PST

ARVN was riddled with poor political leadership which led to poorly motivated troops.
And that was a very big reason why they lost …

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP25 Jun 2018 5:52 p.m. PST

Yep. Can't win hearts and minds when the people don't want to get behind the government.

Joe

Legion 426 Jun 2018 7:23 a.m. PST

And that paradigm has been seen today in Iraq and A'stan … as well as elsewhere …

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