"How Many More Times" - A Vietnam 1965-1975 Game Diary

#12

I love this game so happy to see this Diary keep up the outstanding work.

#13

This is great!

#14

Nowhere to Run

Vietnam 1965-1975

1965 Spring Politics, Policy, Plans & Contingencies, Exposition

“I know you’re no good for me, but you’ve become a part of me. How can I fight a lover, that shouldn’t be, when it’s so deep.”

Please hit play before reading and turn to the maximum volume your brain or household will allow.

Martha and the Vandellas. “Nowhere to Run”, Gordy. February 10, 1965

Politics and Policy

As 1965 arrived, South Vietnam continued to unravel. When General Nguyễn Khánh, head of the Armed Forces Council, overthrew the current Prime Minister in response to continued Buddhist unrest, it was the fifth military coup or attempted coup since the downfall of Diem in late 1963. In response to the coup, National Security Council director McGeorge Bundy and Secretary of State Robert McNamara wrote a memo to President Johnson. They gave the President two options: use American military power to defeat the insurgency or negotiate thus attempting to "salvage what little can be preserved." Bundy and McNamara favored the first option; Secretary of State Dean Rusk disagreed. Johnson accepted the military option and sent a telegram to Ambassador Taylor in Saigon saying, "the U.S. will spare no effort and no sacrifice in doing its full part to turn back the Communists in Vietnam."

NLF military efforts and terrorist attacks continued with the Attack on Camp Holloway in February finally leading to US Airstrikes on North Vietnam, airstrikes that would be expanded and continued as the year wore on. Finally, in late February, concerns about attacks on US airbases in Da Nang, led General Abrams, the MACV Commander, to request the deployment of elements of the III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF-3rd Marine Division) in Okinawa to Da Nang to ensure that no attacks occur, or that they would be repelled.

Nguyen%20Cao%20Ky

In late-February, General Khan was overthrown by a vote of no confidence by the Armed Forces council (a Junta of ARVN Military Generals) after another coup attempt. After deliberations, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was named President (Head of State, a relatively powerless position) and Nguyễn Cao Kỳ was named Prime Minister (Head of Government, and in charge of almost all policy and military decisions). This gave Washington hopes, at least of finally having a stable government running the Republic of Vietnam, one that it could work with, but the military situation was precarious.

Conference

On March 26, General Abrams said in a report to Washington that the South Vietnamese armed forces had "begun to show evidence of fragmentation and there is no longer an effective chain of command”. He departed for Washington D.C. the next day for meetings with Secretary McNamara, Ambassador Taylor, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to determine exactly what was to be done regarding South Vietnam, and the President’s directive to use the military option.

As General Abrams boarded his plane in Saigon, he had one plan with three contingencies in his briefcase, that he had been working on with US Pacific Command and General Johnson, the Army Chief of Staff, that they would present at the meeting. Nothing in war is certain, he’d learned that first hand in France. But this plan might, just might have a chance of turning this thing around.

Plans and Contingencies

Operation Freedom Partner is the overall concept.

Lines of Effort:

  • Partner - The plan calls for an intensive expansion of the ARVN Military. Abrams knows that the ARVN Chief of Staff is outstanding and the I and IV Corps Commanders are good. As well, there are good division commanders in 1 ARVN Division, 22 ARVN Division, 23 ARVN Division, 25 ARVN Division, and the ARVN Marine and Parachute Divisions. These must be expanded and augmented with the latest military equipment.
  • US Focus - US Ground Troops are needed to deter NVA aggression in the north, but also to aid the ARVN in degrading Viet Cong Capabilities in the South. However, after degrading capabilities and clearing regional areas, ARVN forces, with limited US Combat assistance, must keep areas cleared of Viet Cong. So, the ARVN Leadership must continue to be reformed and ARVN Forces expanded. As well, One Corps, possibly two at the most, of US Ground Forces will be committed to country, with one Corps being the “Steady State” presence to aid the ARVN after the current emergency is dealt with and the ARVN reach full capacity.
  • Clearing - The Operation will begin with a defensive US Presence in the North and Central Highlands, but the commitment of the 101st Airborne (Airmobile) Division to IV Corps along with three Augmented ARVN Divisions there. One Division will be Augmented in I Corps along with a US Mechanized Brigade (1/5th Infantry Division) that will be arriving in Da Nang, replacing the Marines there who will re-deploy back to Okinawa. The 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate), another Airmobile trained and equipped element, will deploy to II Corps from Okinawa, where is has been training for Airmobile Warfare. Finally, the ARVN Marine and Parachute Divisions will be expanded and augmented in the Saigon area to protect it from VC attacks, but also to engage in operations in III Corps as the year moves on.
  • Follow on Forces - for the US “Clearing Elements” will be the 1st Air Cavalry Division.
  • Holding and Overwatch – After IV Corps is cleared, the 101 Airborne Division, the 1st Air Cavalry Division and the 173rd will move to clear other areas of the country. A Light Infantry Division will be formed from three Light Infantry Brigades in the United States, and formed into the 23rd Infantry Division, “Americal”. This until will continue a presence in the North, aiding and providing overwatch to ARVN operations, and facing down attempts by the NVA to launch an attack there. The US Navy will prepare the I Marine Amphibious Force (1 Marine Division) for Operations in Vietnam and will eventually assume the Hold and Overwatch mission in IV Corps. By that time, the Clearing Force (I Field Force, Vietnam) should be limiting its operations to II and III Corps.

Army Reorganization and Activation for Holding and Overwatch:

The 197th Infantry Brigade, consists of a composite artillery battalion (105 mm and 155-mm howitzers and Honest Johns), an armor battalion, a mechanized infantry battalion, two infantry battalions. It is ordered from Fort Benning, GA to Fort Ord, CA…

The 11th Infantry Brigade (at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii) is ordered to prepare for deployment to South Vietnam.

The 196th Infantry Brigade is ordered to Fort Irwin, CA from its current home at Fort Devens, MA.

The 11th Airborne Division will be formed with it’s base headquarters as Fort Benning, Ga.

US Army Active Duty personnel and 4 Artillery Battalions (2 of 155mm and 2 of 175mm) are sent to Fort Irwin, CA and the US 23rd Infantry Division (“Americal”) is stood up there, though at present it still lacks any maneuver Brigades.

  • Support – Large amounts of US Artillery, Airpower and Helicopter support will be deployed to Vietnam to support these operations. The US Navy will endeavor to provide Riverine support in IV Corps to the ARVN and 1st Marine Division there. 5th Special Forces Group will deploy en masse to Vietnam, and full expansion of ARVN Ranger and Special Forces will occur soonest.
  • Sustainment – The Draft Call will be expanded for only 180 days. Three National Guard/Reserve Divisions will be called up to provide a “bridge” of battalions for the Overwatch and Deterrent forces in 1966. This will be a long war, better to rotate units in and out of theater to sustain operations by deployed Divisions rather than replace individual soldiers. The Marines will do the same with II and III MAF units in Okinawa and Stateside rotating under I MAF’s command. As well, a cadre of the 1st Air Cavalry will continue as the 11 Airborne (Airmobile) Division at Fort Benning, GA to have Airmobile trained units ready to rotate into theater.

Guard and Reserve Activations for Holding and Overwatch and Sustainment:

36th and 71st Airborne Brigades (TX NG) (to Okinawa, Japan) – These units will begin training in Airmobile Tactics and made ready for deployment to South Vietnam. Estimated Time on Active Duty – 18 Months.

30th Infantry Division (NC NG) (to Fort Benning, GA) - This Division will be held as a US Strategic Reserve, replacing the 1st Air Cavalry Division until the Draft can allow another US Active Duty Division to be mustered. Estimated time on Active Duty – One Year.

37th Infantry Division (OH NG) (to Fort Campbell, KY) - This Division will be held as a US Strategic Reserve, replacing the 101st Airborne Division. Estimated time on Active Duty – One Year.

63d Infantry Division (Army Reserve Division encompassing Army Reserve units in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada.) (to Fort Irwin, CA) – This division will prepare units for rotation to South Vietnam in the next 60 days. Estimated Time on Active Duty – 18 Months.

There are three Contingencies for Freedom Partner.

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Band Sapphire is the draft code name for the above and assumes a stable South Vietnamese government.
Better Silver is the draft code name for a contingency that deals with an unstable South Vietnamese Government. It is similar to the above, but increases the US Forces and decreases the ARVN Expansion at this early point.
Best Bauble is the contingency for an Unstable South Vietnamese Government or a Coup, coupled with a Communist Offensive. This involves committing the US Army’s Strategic Reserve from the continental United States (The 1st, 4th, and 25th Infantry Divisions). This is a “use only in emergencies” contingency.

Exposition

Take a breath, get up, stretch, get a drink, and then please hit play before reading and turn to the maximum volume your brain or household will allow.

James Brown. “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, King. June 1965

These are the parameters of the Campaign Game.

This is how you win (or “win”).

This is the terrain chart.

Oh, on all counters the strengths are Ground Strength, Firepower/Artillery Strength and movement. The little number to the left of the Unit Designation in italics is the pursuit value of a unit. Oh, and the units with white boxes on their movement values are Heavy Equipment/Armored/Mechanized and can’t be “Airmobilized”. Don’t worry about all these things too much now, we’ll talk more about that another time.
This is an example smattering of US Units.

From Left to Right: the first four rows are a typical US Division (the 1st Infantry Division in this case). The HQ and Divisional assets followed by the three Brigades. The Brigades have three deployment profiles. At the top you see the unit as a Brigade. This rarely is utilized. Below that you see the Brigade HQ and three Battalions. This is the most usual deployment profile use by the US in the game. There is a third, parceling out the Brigade Artillery to the Battalions, but it is rarely used too. The fifth row are some other US Unit Types. Going down; a 175mm Independent Arty BN, Independent 155mm Arty BN and a Independent 105 mm Arty BN. The Artillery have ranges varying from adjacent (no dots) to three hexes (two dots). The dots are the number of hexes they can fire over.
Continuing, we have an Airmobile battalion, a Marine Battalion and an Airborne Battalion. The Airmobile Battalion (and it’s parent HQs) are permanently Airmobile. The move at a cost of ½ a Movement point per hex (with some weirdness for landing that we’ll talk about another time). The Airborne units use their feet; there were no airdrops in Vietnam. But any infantry unit can be Airmobilized at the cost of one point per Battalion. They come from a pool you purchase. Then they can move just like that Airmobile unit. The US is VERY mobile in this game
The last row are some example Free World Allied units. From top to bottom; South Korean, Philippines, Thailand, Australia and the ANZAC Battalion.

These are NLF units.

You see in the first row an NVA division, Unaugmented. Next an NVA Division, Augmented. They all look like that. The NVA also have independent Regiments that look like those 7-2-7’s but are 7-3-7’s.
The third row is a VC Division (yep, they had ’em). Bear in mind with ALL VC units, the US player just sees a blue counter with a yellow star.
Next row you see a Supply Conduit (more later), a Political Section (a decoy essentially, but they hurt pacification in a province just like any combat unit and inhibit enemy movement like a regular unit). Finally there is a VC Independent Regiment.

Lastly there are some examples of VC Battalions, the meat and potatoes of the VC forces. They are all randomized, there are more combinations of values similar to those you see in the force pool. When deploying them the NLF player grabs them at random and places them before seeing what they look like. He just knows it’s a Battalion. This creates a lot of variation in what the NLF player plans to do and what he ends up doing. Oh, and those little blue squares with the yellow stars? Those tell you in the Vassal Module, as the NLF Player that your unit is hidden.

Here we see ARVN Unit types.

The first two rows are typical divisions, unagmented and augmented. Next two rows are, going down, an Independent Armored Cavalry Battalion, an Independent Armored Battalion and an Independent Infantry Battalion, one row is unaugmented and the next augmented.

The last row has, going top to bottom, an ARVN Ranger Battalion (they are special, there are only five, but you can get from 0-5, if they are all built, added to any Search and Destroy Operation). And then you see an ARVN 105mm, 155mm and 175mm Artillery Battalion. They can’t be augmented, they are what they are. Firepower.

Vital Statistics

This is what I start at.

The first thing about this game that drives everything are two values. Commitment and Morale. US Commitment can never exceed US Morale. Same for North Vietnamese Commitment and Morale. Everything action involving; sending troops or supplies into Vietnam, Bombing the North, Invading Laos or Cambodia, costs Commitment or incurs a Morale penalty.

Morale is also impacted by new commitment, South Vietnamese Coups, NLF Battlefield successes…darn near everything.
South Vietnamese Morale goes up when the US commits herself to the war, provides aid, bombs the North. It goes down when bad things happen. South Vietnamese Morale being high is VERY important to pacification and population control and being low is VERY harmful.

The North Vietnamese Morale…just goes up.

VC have no morale, but all their “stuff” comes in the form of supply (bought with North Vietnamese Commitment) that is sent down the Ho Chi Minh Trail or via Sea Supply. And it can be interdicted and degraded while doing that. Also, the South Vietnamese and the VC need Manpower (using controlled population) to build their stuff as well as Supply (South Vietnamese supply comes from…US Commitment). But the South Vietnamese, when they run out of manpower, can’t build a thing anymore unless controlled population increases. The VC can also get Manpower (bought with North Vietnamese Commitment, again) and send that down the Trail.

These are the Build charts.

FWA

NLF

Oh, and all the US Commitment and Supply Decisions occur publicly. The NLF decisions are secret. You can kinda figure out what the NLF Morale and Commitment levels might be, but you are never sure.

The NLF “Politburo”, inaccessible to the FWA Player.

I think that’s enough for now. Just get the basics out of this. We’ll dive into the details later.

Next: What will the President say? What will He do? The Pre-Summer Seasonal Interphase.

“Come here mama and dig this crazy scene. He’s not too fancy but his line is pretty clean. He ain’t no drag. Papa’s got a brand new bag.”

#15

This is going to require more popcorn.

#16

My experience playing the NLF in this game showed me a lot of the dilemmas in their strategy- splaying out weak battalion sized forces is very effective in winning the pacification war and gives you the maximum benefit of the shell game of VC forces but it also allows the FWA player to have easier operations as they more rarely have to deal with strength and take fewer casualties. The importance of the pacification war is that it affects the controlled population and has a follow-on effect on SVN morale. Population is very important to the NLF player because they have a limited pool of manpower- they never run out, but eventually they start having to use more and more inefficient commitment exchanges to put down VC units once the SVN manpower runs dry.

The other approach is to put down bigger, fewer units- the bigger units are more dangerous and effective in offensive action. Offensive action is very important in this game because the NLF player is the one who actually has to win the game- they need to push down both US and SVN morale as the game goes on- if they don’t, the US will generally be able to work in a leisurely way and will not have to pull out.

You might see the deployment of few VC units in the Central Highlands- the reason for that is that it’s the easiest place for the VC to reinforce their position- they can much, much more easily place units near the border with Cambodia ad Laos than they can elsewhere(the commitment-supply conversion rate is much, much better on the Trail than by sea).

#17

The ‘In’ Crowd

Vietnam 1965-1975

1965 Narrative, Interphase Exposition and Summer Interphase Resolution

“We breeze up and down the street. We get respect from the people we meet. They make way day or night. They know the in crowd is out of sight.”

Please hit play before reading and turn to the maximum volume your brain or household will allow.

Ramsey Lewis Trio. “The ‘In’ Crowd”, Argo. Recorded May 13, 14 & 15, 1965

The President Decides

In mid-April, after two weeks of meetings with The Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor and General Abrams, President Johnson approved Operation Freedom Partner. The President was reluctant to spend political capital on a limited call-up of the National Guard and Reserves but was mollified by the ability to enunciate a limited increase in the Draft Call for a defined six-month period. The more difficult discussions revolved around the integrating the bombing campaign against the North into Freedom Partner.

The Joint Chiefs and General Abrams were emphatic that direct, unfettered bombing of North Vietnamese military-industrial infrastructure was essential to hampering Communist efforts in the South, as well as giving a signal to the newly formed, but fragile, South Vietnamese Government that the United States was serious and determined in countering the North’s aggression. As well, such efforts would boost the morale of the ARVN Command infrastructure, shaky after a year of coup and counter-coup. However, Secretaries McNamara and Rusk were proponents of “gradualism”, the thought that the threat of more intensive Bombing could be used as leverage to push the Politburo to the negotiating table, thus taking the stance more limited Bombing of the North be undertaken, as had occurred to this point. National Security Adviser Bundy was ambivalent on this point.

Coup%20Shit

Finally, a compromise was reached. Intensive, unrestrained bombing of the North would begin and continue until the Spring of 1966, as this would enhance the chances that the Band Sapphire (stable South Vietnamese Government) contingency could be used for Freedom Partner. To attempt to minimalize any potential increase in tensions with the Chinese or Soviets, Covert Operations in the waters off North Vietnam would be suspended, which would, for the time being, hamper US Navy Efforts to interdict sea infiltration of supplies from the North. President Johnson would also travel to San Francisco for meetings with Ky and Thieu in Fall 1965 in an attempt to use his prestige to shore up their government, saying to the final meeting of the group, “I don’t want to hear any more of this coup shit!"

Strategic Warfare

Per SECDEF EXORD you are hereby ordered to degrade all military, transportation, POL and industrial infrastructure targets in North Vietnam to inflict maximum impact on North Vietnamese military and war-making capabilities until otherwise directed.

Cable from CJCS to CINCPAC, April 29, 1965.

The 2nd Air Division and Task Force 77 launch nearly all available bombers against targets in North Vietnam. The Thanh Hóa Bridge , Haiphong Railyards and Port were hit particularly hard, as were Vinh’s seaport and industrial center and the city of Đồng Hới, targeting depots thought to house supplies headed south via sea and the Trail, respectively. The strikes were determined to be effective in degrading capabilities given the force applied, but more precise targeting could have inflicted greater damage. There were no aircraft losses and the strikes were determined to be an unqualified success.

Reactions to the bombings were mostly met with a muted reaction in he United States, with some protests at UC Berkley, the University of Michigan, and a sit in at the Jefferson Memorial by Concerned Clergy for Peace. Governor George Romney of Michigan, when interviewed about the Ann Arbor protest said, “Those kids up there would complain if we dropped flowers on them {North Vietnamese].” However, the Chinese embassy lodged an official protest when one of its commercial freighters was damaged and 10 crew members were killed.

Operation Market Time seized a record number of supplies by sea, to include 2 freighters spotted and seized unloading supplies off the coast of Go Cong and Kien Hoa Provinces. A total of 300 tons were seized. Unfortunately, the suspension of covert activities in the waters off North Vietnam’s coast would likely hamper Market Time in the Fall.

South Vietnamese Politics

Ambassador Taylor, upon returning to Saigon in late April, requested a meeting with Prime Minister Ky and what senior ARVN Commanders who could attend the meeting at short notice; Nguyễn Chánh Thi (the I Corps Commander), Đỗ Cao Trí (the II Corps Commander), Vice Admiral Chung Tấn Cang, (the commander of the navy) and Trần Văn Minh (Commander of the Air Force). He asked the four officers to sit down and then asked "Do all of you understand English?". The ambassador then angrily denounced the commanders. According to Stanley Karnow, Taylor "launched into a tirade, scolding them as if he were still superintendent of West Point and they a group of cadets caught cheating". He said "I told you all clearly at General Abrams’ dinner we Americans were tired of coups. Apparently, I wasted my words." He decried the reports on intrigues by the ARVN Senior Commanders as "totally illegal" and said that "… you have made a real mess. We cannot carry you forever if you do things like this."

He then informed them of the decision to bomb the North, commit US Ground Forces and greatly increase aid and training to the ARVN “…but only if this plotting ceases, now. Full stop.” He then informed Prime Minister Ky privately that the President wanted an official state visit by Ky and President Thieu in late September, in San Francisco, where they would discuss the future of US aid and assistance to the Republic of Vietnam. In his memoirs, Ky recounted, “I had never been so pleased, at the possible redemption of my country, and so insulted, that the representative of one nation would speak in such a fashion to representatives of another, both at the same time.”

General Abrams, upon his return met with the ARVN Chief of Staff, General Cao Văn Viên, and worked hard to get the II Corps commander and Nguyễn Văn Mạnh, the 18 ARVN Division Commander replaced. The former was retained through personal connections to President Thieu, but this evidently this, and the scolding by Ambassador Taylor had put an end to any coup plotting on his part, and he reaffirmed his loyalty to the regime, redoubling his efforts in II Corps. General Manh, however was replaced by General Lê Văn Hưng.

Abrams%20SVN%20Navy

As a result of these collective efforts, the ARVN Military and Government seemed stable, as stable as it had been since before the Buddhist Crisis of 1963, and Ambassador Taylor and General Abrams both recommended the implementation of the Band Sapphire contingency of Operation Freedom Partner. There was still some risk though, as the military situation was still shaky in the countryside and Prime Minister Ky’s dismissal of several of General Thi’s loyalists in the Ministry of Defense created some murmurs that perhaps he was too impulsive to lead South Vietnam in such difficult times.

North Vietnamese Politics

Le%20Duan

In Hanoi, the bombings of the north were used by Lê Duẩn to strengthen the hand of his Aggressive War faction against Giáp’s Revolutionary War faction. He utilized the death of several Chinese officers and the damaging of a Chinese freighter to persuade the People’s Republic to increase aid shipments, and the Soviet government did the same, lest it fall behind China in its competition for influence in Hanoi. Lê Duẩn was now seen as the man who could get the Socialist “Big Brothers” to deliver tangible support.

The US Arrives and the ARVN Build

In South Vietnam, on May 10, the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) arrived in Cần Thơ in IV Corps, where the 1 and 23 ARVN Divisions were augmented, while the 25 ARVN Division was augmented at Mỹ Tho. 4 Battalions of ARVN Artillery were upgraded to the latest US 155mm howitzer models.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) arrived in Cam Ranh Bay, as the Headquarters element and two Brigades of the ARVN Parachute Division (aka Thien Duan Sat Cong – “Angels in Red Hats”) were augmented in Qui Nhơn. While these elements were now preparing for operations in II Corps, the 1st Brigade of the ARVN Parachute Division and the entire ARVN Marine Division were augmented and readied in the Saigon area.

The 1st Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division (Mech), consisting of an Armored Battalion, a Mechanized Infantry Battalion and an Infantry Battalion, supported by a Battalion of 155mm Howitzers were diverted from their original landing location, Da Nang, to Huế. Commanded by BG Bernard W. Rogers, here they met with the 42d and 47th Regiments of 22 ARVN Division, as well as its Headquarters, augmented. The 40th Regiment of the Division was augmented in Da Nang. The 1st/5th (Mech) deployed as a Brigade, preparing for operations against the 1 PAVN Division in Con Thien.

As Abrams prepared US and ARVN Forces for partnered operations in the Summer, one thing became apparent, the II and II Corps Commanders had to b dealt with and soon. While all augmented ARVN Divisions and I and IV Corps assets were ready for operations, along with ARVN-level assets commanded directly by the Chief of Staff, all units in those two Corps were completely ineffective as Summer began, useless in the upcoming test.

Viet%20Cong

The Viet Cong appeared to increase its presence in II and III Corps overall, with a slight increase in IV Corps as well. Especially troubling was the concentration of units that formed in Bình Định Province, along the coast in Northern II Corps, a populous agricultural area.

Interphase Resolution (and Exposition)

Take a breath, get a drink, stretch a bit, pet the cat or dog, and then please hit play before reading and turn to the maximum volume your brain or household will allow.

Bob Dylan and members of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. “Maggie’s Farm”, Recorded Live at the Newport Folk Festival, July 25, 1965

At Start

U.S. Morale - 520

U.S. Commitment - 25

SVN Morale - 65

SVN Draft level - 8

SVN Controlled Population - 217

NVN Morale - 10

NVN Commitment - 0

VC Draft Level - 0

NLF Controlled Population – 143

Recordkeeping is an ongoing process and Pacification doesn’t happen in this first, game-starting Interphase.

Strategic War Phase

A. Mission Declaration Segment: I declare what I want to bomb, North Vietnam (Restrained or Unrestrained) and/or the Trail and how many Air Points I allocate. I allocate 19 of my 21 to Pound the North Unrestrained and Unflinchingly. Curtis LeMay, baby.

B. Strategic Bombing Segment: rolled a 4 for 19 Air Points conducting Unrestrained Bombing of the North. You take the number of Air Points and cross reference to the Row that corresponds with it given the low (‘0”) NVN Air Defense Levels at present. That’s row 9. The 4 I rolled moved it to Row 13. 2 NVN Commitment lost (1 away from 3, the maximum I could have gotten, given my Air points committed!). The I rolled a 1d6/2 (rounded down) +1 for its harm to US Morale. Rolled a 3/2=1+1, -2 Morale. No losses when Curt rolled again to see if I lost any Air Points. SVN Morale gets boosted +4 to 69.

C. Blockade Segment: 5 NVN Commitment was sent. That puts him on row 96. I have one Naval Point and rolled a 6. That move it down to Row 90. So 30 Supply was reduced to 27. Then he gets to add 2x the base number of NVN Commitment that he sent as supplies, so he gets a net 37 Supplies via sea (that he can use to build units 5 hexes or less from an all-sea hex).

D. Trail Status Segment: Didn’t happen, I didn’t bomb the trail and he didn’t spend to upgrade it. His stuff gets through at a ratio of NVN Commitment to VC Supply. He can use this to build 8 hexes from a SVN Border hex. In this case whatever number he sent (probably 5 or so Commitment x 9, the multiplier in Box 4 (the little number to the left on the right side).

Trail%20Example

Politics Phase

A. SVN Officer Replacement Segment: I must attempt to replace the guys on the bottom in the dark areas and can attempt to replace the guys in the light shades area. I opt to just do the guys I have to do. You need to roll less than a 7, and if you roll a 9-12 that guys (if he is a two star) becomes Pro-Coup and all subordinate Divisions and Battalion assets are ineffective. So on the II Corps Commander I roll a 7. His loyalty goes to the Bottom of the Barrel but no other ill-effects, though he’ll probably be Pro Coup After the Coup Roll. The 18 ARVN Division Commander gets a roll of 6, he’s gone, and replaced by a B2 (effectiveness is the number, the letter is his faction) and he gets a good initial loyalty roll of 11. We may have just found our Division Commander for the 18 ARVN!

B. Coup Determination Segment: You roll 2d6 and compare it to the Two Star Loyalties. If the roll is less than their loyalty, they are Loyal. Same as their Loyalty, they are Wavering. Greater than their loyalty, they are Pro-Coup.
If there are more Pro-Coup Leaders than Loyal Leaders, there is a Coup. The Three Star gets put back in the Three Star pull and a new one is randomly pulled (it could be the same guy). The loyalty of every Loyal Two-Star Leader goes down by one. The US takes a -3 Morale hit and the SVN take a -8 Morale hit. Coups are bad.
If the Wavering and Pro-Coup Leaders combined are equal to the Loyal Leaders, the Government is Unstable. The US takes a -1 Morale hit and the SVN take a -3 morale hit. Unstable sucks.

If the Loyal Leaders Outnumber Wavering and Pro-Coup Leaders combined, the government is Stable. Lower the Loyalty of Pro-Coup Two Star Leaders by 1.

I rolled a “3”! Even Mr. Sunshine, the II Corps Leader is loyal. I guess Ambassador Taylor’s dressing down of the “cadets” worked!

C. SVN Morale Adjustment Segment: You implement and calculate all the Morale adjustments for the SVN first. I am at 69 (up from 65 from the Unrestrained Bombing of the North). -2 for KY and -1 for Population level. 66. Ky…
Leader Loyalty Adjustment Roll-Now I roll on this table to see what wackiness happens with the ARVN Factions:

I roll, an 8! No Effect! This has been a storm-free SVN Politics Phase. I am giddy!

D. US Morale Segment: we already went down to 518 from 520 because of the Strategic Bombing. No other loss Occurs now.

E. NVN Morale Adjustment Segment: They go from 10 to 15, because they are dedicated Communists and Nationalist Revolutionaries. No other impacts this turn.

Recruitment Phase

A. US, ARVN and FWA Placement and Withdrawal Segment

Withdrawals come before Placements. Anything Withdrawn can’t be placed that same segment.

Withdrawals:

ARVN

2 ARVN Cav Squadron (My Tho) – His leader stinks, and I am going to build new units there, so, off you go, your poor victim of the ARN Leadership Strategy.

US

1 Cruiser (1C)

1 Naval Point (4C)

All 6 Marine Division Battalions (6C) (the HQs stay in Da Nang)

This gives me a deficit of -11 Commitment, applied to any new commitment I bring in.

Placements:

US

196 ARVN Supply (28C)

2 Economic Aid Packages (2C) (these will help boost SVN Morale next Season)

101st Airborne Division in Can Tho (10C)

173rd Airborne Brigade in Cam Ranh Bay (4C)

1/5th Infantry Division in Hue (3C)

10 Airmobile Points (5C)

15 US Replacements (5C)

12 Air Points (4C)

61C

-11C (From Withdrawals)

50C

ARVN

Build and Augment Full 22 ARVN Division (4M/21S)

  • 40 Regiment in Da Nang
  • 42 Regiment in Hue
  • 47 Regiment in Hue
  • HQ in Hue

Build and Augment Full 25 ARVN Division (4M/21S)

  • 46 Regiment in My Tho
  • 49 Regiment in My Tho
  • 50 Regiment in My Tho
  • HQ in My Tho

Build and Augment Full 1 ARVN Division (5M/26S)

  • 1 Regiment in Can Tho
  • 3 Regiment in Can Tho
  • 51 Regiment in Can Tho
  • 54 Regiment in Can Tho
  • HQ in Can Tho

Build and Augment Full 23 ARVN Division (5M/26S)

  • 41 Regiment in Can Tho
  • 44 Regiment in Can Tho
  • 45 Regiment in Can Tho
  • 53 Regiment in Can Tho
  • HQ in Can Tho

Build and Augment Full ARVN Marine Division (3M/18S)

  • 2 Brigade in Saigon
  • 3 Brigade in Saigon
  • HQ in Saigon

Build and Augment Full ARVN Paratrooper Division (3M/18S)

  • 2 Brigade in Qui Nonh
  • 3 Brigade in Qui Nonh
  • HQ in Qui Nonh

Build 4 155 ARVN Independent Artillery Battalions (28S) (two in My Tho, two in Can Tho)

Build 3 Ranger Groups (15M/27S)

Build 20 ARVN Replacement Points (5M/10S)

B. NVA and VC Placement: We save the game file Curt places a lot of stuff I can’t see offline.

C. Infiltration Segment: There isn’t anything on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in terms of units that can move on it. We’ll save this for another day.

D. Offensive Declaration Segment: Costs 10 NVN Commitment and can only occur if US Commitment is 150 or higher. We’re not there yet.

Curt sends file to me, I start a Vlog to record one roll to complete this diary entry

Unit Status Phase

A. US Organizational Segment: I can alter my Brigades’ deployment Profile if all elements are stacked together. I do. Based on Curt’s builds (we’ll see maps in a second here) I turn the 1/5 Infantry (Mech) Brigade into the reason I brought it in this turn.

From this (a versatile Battalion grouping with great Brigade dedicated 155s):

1-5%20Profile%202

To this:

The Road clearing, NVA-Huntin’ Bringer of Pain.

B. ARVN Effectiveness Roll: I roll 1d6 on the below table and compare with my current Leaders. This is the big enchilada, who can do what for the next two loooong game turns of Summer ’65 for the ARVN. I am counting on the ARVN and have made a lot of effort and planned around the fact that I could use them. This is a bit of a gamble.

I roll a 4.

I get this. I can live with it.

I and II Corps at End of Interphase. Note Curt’s increase in Binh Dinh in Northern II Corps and the slow spread of more overall units in II and III Corps.

III and IV Corps at End of Interphase. Note the Tower of Doom in Can Tho. That is what one US Division and two ARVN Divisions, just arrived and loaded for Bear look like.

At End

U.S. Morale - 518

U.S. Commitment - 75

U.S. New Commitment - 50

SVN Morale - 66

SVN Draft level - 53

SVN Controlled Population - 217

NVN Morale - 15

NVN Commitment - ? (Probably 15).

VC Draft Level - ?

NLF Controlled Population – 143

Next: What exactly are the VC doing? What will happen in IV Corps? Summer Operations begin.

“Well, I wake up in the morning, fold my hands and pray for rain. I got a head full of ideas that are drivin’ me insane. It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor. I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.”

#18

I Can’t Help Myself

Vietnam 1965-1975

1965 Summer Operations Narrative, Operations Exposition and Summer Operations Status/Commentary

“When you snap your finger or wink your eye, I come a-running to you. I’m tied to your apron strings and there’s nothing that I can do. I can’t help myself. No, I can’t help myself.”

Please hit play before reading and turn to the maximum volume your brain or household will allow.

The Four Tops. “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”, Motown. Released April 23, 1965. Number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100 June 12 to June 19 and from June 26 to July 3 in 1965

Tấn Công Mùa Hè và Nổi dậy Lê Độ Mậu Thân 1965 (The Summer Offensive and Le Do Uprising of 1965)

Thanh%20and%20Le%20Duan

At the end of March, during its 11th Plenum, the Party Central Committee in Hanoi resolved to accelerate the decisive campaign, with the objective of winning the war by means of a summer-fall offensive. Lê Duẩn, leader of the Aggressive War faction, and Nguyễn Chí Thanh, General Secretary of COSVN and Political Commissar of the Liberation Army of the South, had both overcome General Giáp’s objections and dominated the meeting. Nation-wide attacks would be conducted in the hopes of toppling the criminal regime in the South, with the goal of seizing provincial capitals and inflicting maximum damage upon the South’s military before the Americans could arrive in force. While US Ground troops were disembarking and preparing for operations at their respective disembarkation ports, attacks were launched against: Quang Tri and Tam Kỳ in I Corps, Tuy Hòa and Pham Rang in II Corps, Xuân Lộc and Phước Loc in III Corps, Cần Thơ and Mộc Hóa in IV Corps.

The attack on Quang Tri, conducted by elements of the 1 PAVN Division, staging from the communist-occupied abandoned hamlet of Con Thien, just south of the Demilitarized Zone, was an unqualified success. The Armored Cavalry Squadron of the 3 ARVN Division was destroyed, and the provincial capital was taken.

The attack on Xuan Loc went similarly, the attack, launched at 0300 on June 5 was conducted by the 165 PLAF Regiment and the 3 Xuan Loc Provincial Battalion. The Armored Cavalry Squadron of the 21 ARVN Division was caught in its barracks, and the capital was overrun. Most of the Squadron survived, but 40+ armored cars and M113 APCs were destroyed in their vehicle depots.

The other attacks were repulsed, as the ARVN forces staved off initial attacks, sometimes by two PLAF Regiments, but took minimal losses in the initial days’ combats, and defensive reserves rushed to the defense of the locations, resulting in later losses by the VC. Notable among these was Operation Coastal Angel, a deployment of 2 BN and HQ Elements of the 173rd Airborne to Pham Rang from their arrival port in Cam Ranh Bay, 4 days after landing. As well, the Divisional Artillery elements of the ARVN Airborne Division was airlifted to Tuy Hoa where it defied an attack by the 1 PLAF Regiment and two PLAF Battalions with heavy losses for the VC.

However, these successes and setbacks were minor in comparison with the rocket and artillery attacks on Can Tho. In April and May nine North Vietnamese trawlers, illegally flagged as Indian ships, departed Sihanoukville, where they had rendezvoused to pick up a special cargo: enough Soviet and Chinese 122mm Artillery pieces, 160mm Mortars and Rocket Launchers to provide the artillery component to three VC Divisions as their Artillery Regiments. The freighters successfully evaded US and South Vietnamese Naval Patrols and were able to unload their cargo into the waiting hands of PLAF logistics units on the beaches of South Vietnam. Six trawlers unloaded in Vinh Binh Province in IV Corps and the other three in Quang Ngai province in I Corps. Simultaneous to these efforts, advance crews and support personnel in Vinh Binh and Quang Ngai were trained in use and operation using mock-ups and similar, older equipment. By early June two Artillery regiments were positioned in range of the embarkation port at Can Tho in IV Corps, and another near Da Nang in I Corps.

On June 4 the 1 & 23 ARVN Divisions joined the 101st Airborne Division in Can Tho. The 101st had arrived on June 1, and just disembarked, organizing itself for the summer campaign. As well, eleven ARVN replacement Battalions were gathered in tents and Quonset Huts, ready to provide replacements for losses expected in the upcoming campaign in IV Corps.

At 0330 on June 5, the two PLAF Artillery Regiments began shelling the ARVN facilities. Large petroleum storage tanks and ammunition depots were set alight, causing massive explosions and fires quickly spread to the ARVN replacement encampments near the Mekong River. The fires lasted all day and began to subside, with great exertions by firefighting teams, by evening. However, in the shelling and fires, approximately 1,500 ARVN soldiers were casualties. Some estimates placed the losses as high as 2,000.

Can%20Tho%20aftermath

Civilian casualties were unknown as well but were estimated at 5,000. After what the International press termed “Dresden in the Delta” and the country-wide offensive, hopes for the Summer were dampened in the eyes of some MACV Staff Officers. Would the ARVN be able to effectively contribute to the upcoming Operation Bastogne/ Hổ Giận ( Angry Tiger ) in IV Corps?

A Cautious Summer North of Saigon

In I, II and II Corps, US and ARVN Forces stayed mainly on the defensive in the Summer of 1965. The exceptions was Operation Independence/Operation Cảnh Báo Quyết Lliệt ( Fierce Warning ) conducted in I Corps and Operation Big Express, a US Road Clearing and Security Operation focused East of Saigon along National Route 1 in Long Khanh Province in III Corps.

Operation Independence/Operation Cảnh Báo Quyết Lliệt ( Fierce Warning ) was a combined Search and Destroy operation involving the 1st/5th Infantry (Mech) and the 22 ARVN Division in the vicinity of Phong Dien. near the border of Quang Tri and Thua Thien provinces. On July 1, the 42 RGT/22 ARVN, supported by ARVN Rangers and the divisional Artillery based in Hue, launched an attack against the patrolling VC 5 Quang Tri Provincial Battalion 5 Miles Southeast of Phong Dien. While the VC were pinned by the Regiment, and interdicting fire forced them to fight, they suffered light casualties, as did the ARVN. However, the Battalion was forced to retreat northward into communist occupied Quang Tri Province, near the DMZ, opening the way for further operations along National Route 1. On July 3, the 22 ARVN Divisional Artillery supported a combined ground and air assault against an unknown patrolling VC Unit 5 miles Southeast of Phong Dien.

The enemy force avoided contact and retreated Northeast, joining the 1 RGT/1 PAVN Division in Grasslands South of Quang Tri. Finally, on July 4, the 1st/5th Infantry (Mech) moved North of Hue and, provided close air support by A-4C Skyhawks, attacked the positions of the 1 RGT/1 PAVN Division and the now identified 27 PLAF Battalion south of Quang Tri. In a sharp battle that lasted until after dusk, the US took 62 casualties, and forced the communist units retreat Northwest, away from Thua Thien Province, fulfilling MACV’s ultimate objective for this operation. The 1st/5th Infantry (Mech) rebased to refit at Phong Dien, by July 8, guarding against any further movement south by the PAVN.

After refitting, on July 22, the 1st/5th Infantry (Mech) was tasked by MACV to speed southwards from Phong Dien, and then inland, West via National Route 19, through Kontum Province in II Corps and then South via National Route 14 near the Cambodian Border, then through Saigon and to Xuan Loc from the East. On August 5 the Brigade, assigned close air support by newly arrived F4E Phantoms, encountered a roadblock 5 miles east of Xuan Loc, manned by VC elements identified as the 165 PLAF Regiment. A cautious engagement ensued, and after two days, the PLAF withdrew to the North, after which the Brigade returned to Phong Dien by August 16. Two F4E’s were lost to Air Defense Fire.

Operation Bastogne/ Hổ Giận (Angry Tiger) I

Operation Bastogne/ Hổ Giận was a Summer-long operation in IV Corps with Sa Dec Province as the focal point, involving the 101st Airborne Division, the 1 ARVN Division, the 23 ARVN Division, IV Corps Subordinate Battalions and ARVN Chief of Staff Independent Artillery Units. The operation’s concept was divided into two Phases: ARVN Attack, US Cordon in Bastogne I/ Hổ Giận I and ARVN Cordon/US Attack in Bastogne II/ Hổ Giận II. The goals of the operation was to disrupt and if possible destroy Viet Cong concentrations in the Central Mekong Delta, but primarily to divide and push these concentrations into pockets; in the Southern Delta and near the Cambodia border, where they could be eliminated or cleared from South Vietnam in the Fall, when more support and follow-on clearing forces (the 1st Air Cavalry Division) arrive. The Operation began June 10, 1965.

Bastogne/ Hổ Giận I opened with the 1 RGT/1 ARVN making contact south of Can Tho with the 2 Sa Dec Provincial battalion, which engaged the Regiment, inflicting light casualties and then retreated Southward. Elements of the 3rd Brigade/101st, supported by ARVN Rangers then conducted a Ground/Air Assault operation targeting VC elements in Vinh Long Province. The operation uncovered a large supply depot, containing equipment, stores and documuments, which when exploited indicated the planning and dispositions of units infiltrated into the Delta for the VC attack on Can Tho. This intelligence enabled the operating forces to conduct follow-on operations into northern Sa Dec Province, adding to the cordon line being established there. Other elements of the 3rd Bde/101st then conducted Clear and Secure Operations against VC unit concentrations north of Can Tho, clearing these units and establishing patrols, continuing to create the cordon line in this area.

Jitterbug%20Delta

The 1st Bde/101st then conducted a Clear and Secure Operation in An Giang Province, against enemy concentrations there. No enemy contact was made, but the enemy was cleared and again, US Battalions conducted patrols after the operation, continuing the cordon. These operations were replicated by elements of the 101st until a cordon line was established reaching from the coast of Vinh Binh Province in the Southeast Delta up to Long Xuyen in An Giang Province, and then West-Southwest to Rach Gia in Kien Giang Province, roughly crescent-like in shape. Then a second cordon line extended Southeast from Rach Gia to Ba Xuyen Province on the Eastern Delta coast by June 20.

On June 22, 1 ARVN and 23 ARVN elements, based out of Can Tho engaged VC targets noth of that city in a Search and Destroy Operation and destroyed the 9 PLAF Divisional Artillery Regiment which had shelled Can Tho earlier, after a 3-day running assault that began in Sa Dec Province and ended in Vinh Long Province. Several Combined Us 101st/1 ARVN/23 ARVN Search and Destroy operations of 2 Battalion strength were conducted against a VC target in Vinh Binh Province suspected of being the 8 PLAF Divisional Artillery, but he target evaded contact. By the end of June the 25 ARVN Division, based in My Tho had fanned out to a line extending from western Dinh Tuong Province to Moc Hoa, near the Parrot’s Beak on the Cambodian border.

COSVN Reactions, Bastogne/ Hổ Giận (Angry Tiger) II

COSVN%20Responds

PLAF and Provincial VC forces then began to spread out nation-wide, the offensive having been completed. In the Delta, enemy concentrations attempted to move south, into the Cau Mau Peninsula or Northeast, toward the Cambodian border. In I and II Corps, VC units made either for undefended coastal agricultural areas or to defensive territory inland. Of note, however, the 165 PLAF Regiment and several unidentified Viet Cog Battalions in Long Khanh Province moved into the Provincial capital, Xuan Loc and prepared to defend it.

ARVN and 101st Airborne Units switched roles as Summer Operations ended. For Operation Bastogne/ Hổ Giận (Angry Tiger) II, the ARVN established firebases and Patrol cordons in IV Corps, relieving the 101st of those duties. The 101st conducted Search and destroy Operations in Chau Doc Province and Kien Phong Province near the Cambodia Border and inflicted moderate enemy losses for minimal casualties, uncovering the 62 PLAF Regiment in Kien Phong and the 1 Chau Doc Provincial Battalion in that province.

MG%20Seaman

As Summer ended the NLF and the ARVN had taken serious losses, and the US had lost approximately 300 casualties. The Summer NLF Offensive had successes but did not achieve its ultimate goals of taking provincial capitals MACV wasn’t willing to sacrifice at this juncture, other than the Xuan Loc success. As well, their operations in the Delta had taken significant blows and severe disruption. However, the weakness imposed upon the ARVN ability to take casualties by the Attack on Can Tho, combined with the need for ARVN and US forces to situate and position themselves for effective operations had placed a finite limit on what they could accomplish. In Fall, the real test would begin, and Abrams knew it. “This is just a preseason game, a scrimmage.” He told Major General Seaman, his MACV J3 Operations Officer.

Summer Operations Resolution (and Exposition)

Take a breath, get a drink (hard or soft, your choice), and then please hit play before reading and turn to the maximum volume your brain or household will allow.

The Beach Boys (and The Wrecking Crew). “Help Me, Rhonda”, Two weeks at number one on the Billboard 100, from May 29 – June 12, 1965.

The Operations Sequence

“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time” – General Creighton Abrams

I’m going to hold off on operations snapshots this Season and give an overview of operations and combat. Then I’ll walk through some game events and statuses. Later, each season, I’ll go into each type of operations (one or two a Season in-depth). When that is done, and every type of operation has been covered, I’ll stick to some operational snapshots each Season highlighting unusual things or Operations that really show the flexibility of the system.

For the Season’s Operations, you do this twice, in two Game Turns.
1 – Support Phase -Self Explanatory. The US player make sure all Air, Airmobile, and Riverine Points are all accurate and reflected properly on the record tracker.
2 – Special Operations Designation Phase: US Player indicates all units on Hold or Patrol. Then the NLF Player does the same. “Hold” doubles the combat and support strength of a unit for defense, for the Game Turn, but makes the unit ineligible for any other operations that Game Turn. Units on Hold also have no Zone of Control – ZoC (ZoCs inhibit enemy movement). “Patrol” doubles the ZoC effect of the Unit on Patrol; it really inhibits enemy movement. Any units that do either are Operations Complete (OC) for the rest of the turn. The only units that can’t patrol are ARVN Battalions and Headquarters (also, they have no ZOC). Everyone can go on Hold. ARVN Ineffective units can do nothing at all except Strategic Movement the whole Season). Note that either player can also place any unit(s) on Hold or Patrol later in the Operations Phase.
3 – Strategic Movement Phase: The US Player (only) may conduct Security Operations, Strategic Movement and/or Naval Movement with any of his units. The US Player may also conduct Security Operations, Strategic Movement and/or Naval Movement later on in the Operations Phase. The NLF Player may conduct Strategic Movement later on in the Operations Phase (the NLF cannot do Security Operations or Naval Movement). Ineffective ARVN Units may only conduct Strategic Movement and may only do so in this Phase. Basically, Strategic Movement allows any FWA unit unlimited Road movement, paying only costs to exit enemy ZOCs or to move off road. A Security Operation is a Strategic Movement, but on the ARVN or US (only, and not together, and only one stack at a time already on a road) then may fight any enemy unit on the roads with impunity. If the NLF retreat, the operation continues. If the US retreats, op over. The US can keep doing them as long as he has movement points. Since he just pays ZOC costs this could occur from the DMZ to the Delta and back again, theoretically. Naval Movement is from port to port in country or from a port to a non-enemy occupied beach. A FWA unit may move it’s full MP allowance (and may be airmobilized) to reach a Port. Then it moves to another Port or Beach. Note- Reaction Movements – Any unit that ends its movement adjacent to an enemy unit or Units), during any of these operations, can trigger a Reaction movement. This allows the unit(s) to then move their full movement allowance.
Any unit can also do any of these operations during the Operations Phase. NLF Strategic Movement allows them to move a unit up to three times its movement value.

4 – Operations Phase – This is the Heart of the Game Turn. First, the NLF decides who is going to Operate. Then the Operating player may do any of the operations outlined above, as well as:
Search and Destroy Operation (both Players): Basically, movement and then Attack by designated Units.
Clear and Secure Operation (US Player Only): A Search and Destroy, sacrificing some mobility, where the units can end the Operation on Hold or Patrol, at his choice.

Note – Next Season we will highlight an S & D Operation step by step.

Bombardment: US Air Points, US Naval Units or either players’ Artillery Units (that have not moved) may bombard an enemy unit.

Offensive Reserves (US Player Only): Units may join a Search and Destroy or Clear and Secure Operation already in progress.

Defensive Reserves (US Player Only): Units may join the defense against an NLF Search and Destroy Operation already in progress.

Note- any operation could conceivable have all that side’s units and all it’s support allocated to it. If a Player wants to do that. Your only limit is yourself.

Oh, by the way, this is how Combat works. Odds are determined, and then a d6 rolled with appropriate modifiers. You add your manpower and the enemy’s firepower. Attacker Casualties to the right, Defender to the left. An Air Point or Helicopter picture basically means that if any were assigned to the operation, they are lost. The Pursuit modifier is then granted. The Defender retreats (if he wants) and the attacker may pursue, using his organic pursuit modifier added to the roll result. Unused pursuit is a bonus to the next round’s attack (or a penalty). If you had 3 units pursuing, for example, and they end with 3, 4, and 5 pursuit points, respectively, and they all attack you use the lowest modifier (3, above). Sometimes, it’s better in later rounds to take a low odds attack with a unit hot-fulla tactical advantage (a high pursuit modifier).
5 – Game Turn Indication Phase: This is Just the End of the Game Turn. This occurs when the NLF Player Declines to Operate, the US Player Declines, and the NLF Player Declines again. Theoretically, every single Unit on Map May conduct/participate in any of the above before this occurs, but they do not have to.

Support At Start of Operations

The NLF Summer 1965 Offensive

I and II Corps at Beginning of Operations.

III and IV Corps at Beginning of Operations.

Attacks

Battle of Quang Tri

Capture of Quang Tri

Battle of Tuy Hoa

Battle%20of%20Tuy%20Hoa

Battle of Xuan Loc

Battle of Xuan Loc-Captured

Battle%20of%20Xuan%20Loc-Captured

Battle of Pham Rang

Battle of Phouc Loc

Battle of Phouc Loc -Defended

Battle of Moc Ha

Battle of Moc Ha-Defended 3 losses for VC

Battle%20of%20Moc%20Ha-Defended%203%20losses%20for%20VC

Bombardment of Can Tho Part 1, 8 ARVN Replacements lost.

Summer%20Ops-VC%20Bombardment

Bombardment of Can Tho Part 2, ANOTHER 8 ARVN Replacements lost.

Summer%20Ops-VC%20Bombardment%202

I and II Corps at End of Summer NLF Offensive

III and IV Corps at End of NLF Summer Offensive

Commentary – The NLF Offensive didn’t take me by surprise. I had written off Quang Tri for now, and for a few seasons. I also knew he’d take another capital, and it was an easy decision; if there were no Defensive Reserves in range, I’d just lose the ARVN Cav or Armor Battalion for 2 or 2 Supply cost total (1/7 or 2/7 of a US Commitment point each, but no manpower lost).

My limits were: I wouldn’t let him get three capitals (-1 to US Morale and SVN Morale next interphase) or get a Capital in IV Corps. So basically, Quang Tri and one other. That is what happened. So, I was pleased.

What I fully did NOT expect was That he would build Artillery in range of Can Tho, after I had arrived in country with the 101st and built two FOUR REGIMENT ARVN Divisions there. Now, the ports of Hue, Da Nang, Chu Lai, Qui Nonh, Nha Trang, Cam Ranh Bay, Vung Tau, Saigon, My Tho and Can Tho are
The only places new US Units can arrive.
The only places new ARVN Units can be built.

So, if I was going to do any operations in IV Corps, I have to arrive in My Tho and Can Tho. And Can Tho is central. So I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter, based on what I wanted to do this Summer. Sure, I could have Strategically moved them all out in the countryside, but then I wouldn’t have done any operations in the first Game Turn of Summer Operations.

What Curt did was build Supply Conduits (more later) in the Delta. Basically these allow him to exceed provincial build limits for him each Season (the NLF are limited by the number of population they control in a Province for their builds there). So he expended a LOT of resources to make this happen. And a LOT more to build all these Regiments. Funnily enough I went Regiment heavy early in the last game we played and surprised him (and lost the game as the NLF).

So, there is no way for me to describe how shocked and aghast I was at losing 16 (??!!??) ARVN Replacements to the first two NLF Operations, taking me from 24 to 8. Now I was going to have to worry about every ARVN Replacement loss I took for the rest of the Season. If I run out, he can just ding a Regiment, and it pops like a balloon – the whole Regiment would be lost.

Now what this is a testament to is how damned engaging and interesting this game is as a game. Two players, very experienced with the game, other players, and each other, and one can still spring a complete, pants-filling surprise on the other.

That is a good game.

End Summer 1 Cordon in IV Corps

End Summer 2 cordon in IV Cops

After C & S Operation

Commentary – At the end of Summer, things are bearable. Now that I am in position, and he has emptied his shot locker for that Offensive, he has a lot of big, fat juicy Regiments out there…. he might break them down into Battalions, but that expends an extra cost; as it was more expensive to build them. He took a lot of Replacement losses and the units he lost are expensive.

NLF%20Units%20Eliminated

As well, I have the locations of all the Regiments and the two divisional Headquarters seared in my brain. With the arrival of the 1st Air Cav next Season and more support and all my units in the field, it’ll be time for the counteroffensive.

Another down side to going Regiment heavy is that he’ll impact the Pacification Struggle (which we’ll be introduced to next Season) far less than he would if he had gone “Giap” and just built battalions. Sure, I’ll pay for my Free Fire Zone and the captured Capital there in Quang Tri, as well as in Xuan Loc, but Pacification modifiers will be about as good as they can be for me at this stage. That is all based on NLF Presence and SVN Morale. Better to herd the VC to a Few provinces and succeed elsewhere and then deal with a few problem provinces later. Oh, BTW, all US Firepower is halved, unless a Province is declared Free Fire…which hurts Pacification there. And if an NLF unit is on the border of two provinces, and one is Free Fire and one isn’t, guess who gets to choose where that Battalion is? You guessed it….

I and II Corps at End of Summer Operations

III and IV Corps at End of Summer Operations

Support at End of Season

“Well since she put me down I’ve been out doin’ in my head. I come in late at night and in the mornin’ I just lay in bed. Well, Rhonda you look so fine (look so fine) and I know it wouldn’t take much time for you to help me Rhonda, help me get her out of my heart.”

Next: What will Pacification Bring? What will happen when LBJ meets Ky at the Presidio of San Francisco? What will the next stage of Operation Freedom Partner bring to South Vietnam? What is ARVN Morale like?

By the way, if anyone has any questions about the game or the narrative: rules, why who did what, what’s happening in the History, stuff about the music, really anything, feel free. It won’t disturb or “clutter” anything, and the initial post will be updated with bookmark quick links from time to time. I’m happy for this to be an interactive, discursive experience. If I wanted this diary chiseled on impenetrable stone, I would have blogged it. Talking about stuff here, well, it’s fun.

#20

Why didn’t you just land the heavy stuff and end the war?

#21

I’m sorry, I think you have me mistaken for someone else.

#22

Who needs four stars when you have eyebrows like that?

#23

I do think the NLF player is onto something- it’s a lot easier to build up a big cloud of battalions going across the country than it is to build up those regiments and HQs, considering the surge of supplies at the start- it does come at the cost of early pacification gains, but this might be good. Then again, it might not be.

The thing about the big clouds of battalions is that they’re a lot easier to clear out of anything, and there’s less to keep the FWA player honest in his sweeps- you’ll see a lot more ranger use and smaller-scale ops to get more coverage if the FWA sees that many enemy counters.

#24

What war? It was simply a conflict that we were involved in.

#25

They are quite a dominating feature, huh? Emphasizes the seriousness of demeanor. And then ramrod straight, razor creases, short back and sides (not a high and tight or anything like that; that would put off civilians, better to have a slightly softer look that says, “professional, but approachable.”). I mean he looks every bit the part of a General from central casting. I bet he plays that part well.

That’s the key. In another match as the NLF, Curt attempted an even lighter commitment strategy than I am, and I went strong. Half of what I was doing, aside from grabbing Capitals and beating on the ARVN (I popped one or two ARVN regiments whole after bleeding out his Replacement Points in Fall 1965), was trying to get him to do what he didn’t want to do. Which was increase commitment beyond a dribble level of commitment. Part of that was his wanting to delay the possibility of Offensives as long as possible.

So I doubled down on that strategy and launched several" Offensives" like the above (not real-deal Offensives in game terms when US Commitment reaches 150, the NLF can launch Offensives like Tet, and the number of attacks made sap US Morale) but Offensives designed to make him up Commitment faster than he wanted to.

And I had my fun, but started to fall behind the Pacification battle early, which tapped my VC Draft pool of Personnel from Controlled Population early. Also, NVN Morale lags a bit in its increases behind US Commitment, so getting expensive with boutique units early, well, you may not be able to really start building hardcore for another couple of Seasons.

By late1966, IIRC, I was relying on NVN Commitment for Personnel, having used up my VC Personnel Pool… By mid 1967 I was going Conventional with NVA builds, and doing Easter Offensive things by 1969. Yeah, I lost.

This is true, but it’s easier to disperse those guys, and get personnel back as Replacements. With regiments you already bought 3 Battalions, removed them, and then payed another 33% cost in Supply and manpower to Regiment-ize them. Makes you very reluctant to then break them down into battalions to fulfill losses and then disperse/lose them. So you pay a bigger Replacement hit all the time. Also their 6 Manpower constantly gets them on higher casualty tables with the proper application of firepower.

Really there are no right answers. There’s a fine line between just veering from a Strategy because of events of the moment and rigidly sticking to plan that doesn’t work, especially in a game like this where the decisions you make may not bear fruit or lay an egg for a year plus, game-wise. So what you can do, I think, is stick to your strategy, know its weaknesses, and perceive his weaknesses in his strategy and see if you can maximize those while minimizing your own.

#26

And Curt was there to learn that lesson while teaching it. So he wont be doing that now, will he? What do you anticipate from him then?

#27

IDK. We could get into head games, regarding how I’ve played in the past (against other opponents, namely, I usually have preferred tog go bigger early, as the US and then stop short of Westmoreland-esque WW2 theater levels in-country) or how he has played as the NLF in the past (contesting Pacification through presence and then launching Offensives later), but honestly, that way lies madness.

I think, now, I have gone big, but not absurdly so, for the first Season, and he has gone Conventional/Aggressive War early. He’ll have to transition to fight Pacification (very hard for the NLF to win via population control condition, but if not contested, the US can really get the game in hand). The question is when. I think the first few seasons of Pacification/SVN Stability and Effectiveness will tell that tale. To use (hats to @Panzeh’s skillz) poker terminology, the “tell” will be if I observe him breaking down regiments into Battalions or slowly moving from larger to smaller units.

One mistake he made (which he highlighted, while we were talking, we talk about this game a lot while playing) is that while building divisional Arty components, he built Independent Regiments. He would have gotten more long term bang for his buck by buying subordinate Divisional Regiments. Then the Arty would have also helped him far more on defense. Right now, they are just offensive platforms for Bombardment. With the little new commitment he is getting this and the next season, he could either build some Battalions Giap-style to impact Pacification moving forward. He also could try to build a few Divisional Regiments. If I see any of those, that tells me that he is doubling down (for now) on an Aggressive War strategy.

He’ll be looking at what I bring in this next Interphase as an indicator of what I plan to do.

The cat and mouse in this game is just amazing.

#28

Yes it is, and I’m happy to be along for the ride :D

So is your opponent reading this thread too ? XD

#29

If I was alive and college-aged in the '60s, I would have marched against the war, but this thread is fascinating and I’m glad Navarone is putting so much work into it.

#30

Maybe. Certainly initially. Curt just isn’t a social media/forum guy outside of BGG, where is very active in Session reports. We thought it would be fun if I wrote here, him there, and didn’t “peek” after the initial posts, so we could talk strategy, more freely, in-thread. But probably, if he does do a session report series on BGG, he will not begin for a bit. He likes to let a little time pass as the NLF first before starting to write (it’s just his process).

#31

Just to follow up, by the way, here is a very good BGG review/analysis of the game from the pov of an experienced player by Curt.

#32

Turn! Turn! Turn!

Vietnam 1965-1975

1965 Fall Narrative, Interphase Exposition and Fall Interphase Resolution

“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose, under heaven. A time to build up, a time to break down. A time to dance, a time to mourn. A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together."

Take a breath, cuddle something, get a drink, and then please hit play before reading and turn to the maximum volume your brain or household will allow.

The Byrds (lyrics by Ecclesiastes, Adapted by Pete Seeger). Columbia. Released October1, 1965.

In South Vietnam’s Provinces

The downward trend in the provinces continued to favor the communists but overall, the increased presence in the countryside by FWA Forces and Communist heavy-handed (and in some cases, brutal) occupation policies in Quang Tri and Long Khanh backfired somewhat as the populaces there, while acquiescing to their occupiers, didn’t embrace their policies. As well, there was an up-tic of pro-government support in III and IV Corps, as NLF cadres had abandoned the former for the offensive, and US-ARVN Combined Operations had disrupted the VC presence there. However, the downward trend continued, nonetheless a USAID and CIA estimate released September 2, 1965 indicated that the population under government control likely had fallen by 250,000 in the Summer, a decrease of 2%. MACV, USAID and the Agency had muted confidence that the increase in nation-wide morale due to aid programs and the increasing US presence, the clearing of occupied capitals and the disruption of VC efforts in the Mekong Delta likely would stop, and possibly reverse this trend by year’s end.

The Presidio Conference

Presidio%20Greeting

Nguyen Van Thieu and Nguyen Cao Ky, the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam, respectively, arrived at San Francisco International Airport on September 6, 1965, accompanied by ARVN Chief of Staff, General Cao Văn Viên. They were escorted to the Presidio for a three-day conference with President Johnson, Secretary of Defense McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk General Earle “Bus” Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and several other US military officials. Discussions were held regarding the goals and objectives of the US-South Vietnamese military campaign as well as what aid and social progress could be made in the country to defeat the communist aggression. The Prime Minister and General Vien made clear that a continuation of the unrestricted bombing of the North would enhance the position of the government, hurt the communists militarily and increase the morale of the populace. As well, General Vien advocated a resumption of covert reconnaissance and tracking activities off the coast of North Vietnam. Both were eager to clarify when more US troops might be arriving, given the casualties the ARVN took in the Summer and the gains of the NLF Offensive.

Presidio%20Conference

Privately, MACV Commander General Abrams, in consultation with the JCS and Secretary McNamara, planned no immediate Infantry or Armor increases in the Fall, though several US Army Artillery Battalions, three USAF Fighter-Bomber Squadrons of F-105Ds and some US Replacement cadres were bound for theater. The 1st Air Cavalry Division was slated to depart Fort Benning in late November, though there had been delays in detaching and replacing cadres to keep the 11th Air Assault Division intact as a training Division for the Airmobile unit replacements that would be needed for the long Counterinsurgency being contemplated. As well, there was no plan to resume activates off the North Vietnamese coast, as the President was wary that reserve call up and US projection of force in Vietnam might provoke a reaction by the People’s Republic of China. “I don’t want 500,000 screamin’ Chinese coming across the border!”, he told Secretary McNamara, “But if Ky sleeps better in his bed at night if we bomb them [the North], well, fine.”

The South Vietnamese delegation was informed that more troops should arrive by years’ end, and more in 1966, however not in the next few months. More military aid en route should outfit another ARVN Division with the latest equipment, as well as provide enough equipment to outfit an additional ARVN Independent Medium Artillery Battalion. Also, approximately three regiments-worth of US Medium and Heavy Artillery would be arriving in the next week. Air assets would also be increased. Naval efforts off the coast of North Vietnam would not be resumed, however the North would continue to be bombed in force, and these efforts would extend to the Trail in the vicinity of the North Vietnamese entry points into Laos.

Presidio%20Agreement

The US representatives also pressed for more democratic reform in South Vietnam in conjunction with limited land redistribution and other social reforms and programs that would aid counter-insurgency efforts in the South. The President promised that economic aid and expertise would continue to arrive in South Vietnam, stating, “If we can build the TVA here, well we sure as hell can make that Mekong deliver electricity to every farmhouse and ranch in South Vietnam!”

Pledge of the Declaration of San Francisco, 1965

United States President Lyndon Johnson disclosed a declaration in a public statement on September 9, 1965. The document content was authored as three parts proposing the intents of the joint governments and their common diplomatic commitment.

I. A commitment by The United States acknowledging South Vietnam was being attacked by guerrilla and jungle warfare pursued by the North Vietnam communist state and promising to aid South Vietnam in opposing this aggression.

II. A resolution by the Republic of Vietnam to combat social injustice, disease, hunger, ignorance, and political apathy, and to promote several economic and social terms for promoting peace and social justice in South Vietnam.

III. The United States pledged to aid agricultural education for new species of corn, rice, and vegetable seeds; fund construction projects for rural Vietnam; aid the Republic of Vietnam in controlling economic inflation; fund, promote and enhance education and health programs; aid in safeguarding refugees from communist aggressors by funding and staffing programs for the care and education for South Vietnamese children and families.

Strategic War

Interdiction of several convoys bound for the Trail were successful as well as bridges at intersections 11 and 15. However, crew reports indicate POL and industrial infrastructure targets have been dispersed by NVN. Unless reinforced, future strikes may reach a limit of effectiveness given available means.

Cable from COMUS2NDAIRDIV to CINCPAC to August 30, 1965.

The 2nd Air Division and Task Force 77 launch nearly all available bombers against targets in North Vietnam. The Haiphong Railyards and Port were hit particularly hard again, as was Vinh’s seaport and industrial center and the city of Đồng Hới, targeting depots thought to house supplies headed south via sea and the Trail, respectively. The strikes were determined to be of limited effectiveness in degrading capabilities given the force applied, as the North Vietnamese began to disperse vital POL stocks to smaller, hidden locations. An attempt to engage what intelligence reports indicated was a hidden fuel depot in Vinh, struck what the North Vietnamese government claimed was a Hospital, and a French Television crew filming a documentary in Hanoi were escorted to the site a week later. As well, the Trail was interdicted, with the Nape Pass and the Mụ Giạ Pass as primary targets. There were no aircraft losses and the strikes were determined to be a success.

The commitment of US Ground Troops and the first reports of US Casualties, the International Press’ mild surprise at the NLF Summer Offensive, the bombing of the Vinh Hospital and resultant footage released by the RTF to other networks internationally, led to an increase in protests in the United States against US involvement in the conflict. A peace march was held in San Francisco from Market Street to the Embarcadero where Joan Baez and Pete Seeger hosted a “Free Folk Peace Concert” where Peter, Paul and Mary and a visiting Donovan also performed. There were also organized peaceful protests at Columbia and Brown Universities. As well as a march on Pennsylvania Avenue organized by Concerned Clergy for Peace and American Physicians for Peace, with Dr. Benjamin Spock a prominent speaker.

The suspension of US covert activities off the coast of North Vietnam hampered US interdiction efforts greatly. CIA estimates indicated that supplies by sea reaching South Vietnam may have reached a new high, estimating that more than 1,000 tons may have been received by PLAF logistics units in South Vietnam via the ocean route.

South Vietnamese Politics

Prime Minister Ky and General Vien, days upon returning from San Francisco, attended a meeting with General Abrams and Ambassador Taylor where they were presented with evidence of intrigues to overthrow the government by II Corps Commander Lieutenant General Do Cao Tri and III Corps Commander Lieutenant General Nguyen Bao Tri. Their removal was recommended. General Vien was eager to be rid of the latter, but Ky prevaricated due to his family connections. They were of opposite opinions, regarding Do Cao Tri. General Vien, felt he could be rehabilitated if courted, and valued his military competence saying, “There are worse men available. At least I know what he can do.” However, Ky leaped at the opportunity, seeing the US evidence as a trump card to overcome Vien’s objections. Do Cao Tri was replaced by Lu Mong Lan, a Ky loyalist. Nguyen Bao Tri was informed of the meeting by private informants possibly impacting his loyalty to the regime. As well, Ky intervened on behalf of Nguyen Huu Co, the 5th Division Commander and Nguyen Van Chuan, the 7th Division Commander, as Vien wanted them relieved for incompetence during the NLF Offensive. Ky’s actions, taken for political and possibly venal reasons, created a small rift between him and Vien, as well as officers aligned to Vien. The delayed impact of the Summer’s USAID program deliveries and personnel, and the arrival of those for the Fall season, combined with the tangential economic boost and direct military effects of the increasing US Military presence in the country boosted South Vietnam’s morale, according to provincial USAID adivisors.

North Vietnamese Politics

Giap

In Hanoi, the continued bombings of the North and the successes of The Summer General Offensive and Le Do Uprising 1965 increased the Politburo’s overall resolve to continue to increase it’s military commitment to the conflict, as more Soviet and Chinese aid was promised to be forthcoming. However, the losses incurred and the failure of the Offensive’s results to meet the rhetoric of Lê Duẩn’s Aggressive War faction seemed to give the upper hand to Giáp’s Revolutionary War faction. The NVA 1st Division was withdrawn North of Vinh, possibly to be broken down into cadres to join the struggle in the South, leaving only the Divisional Artillery in Con Thien. As well, several PLAF Regiments in South Vietnam appeared to disperse into composite Battalions, preparing to engage in protracted Revolutionary War in he Countryside, notably, 4 identified regiments in II Corps, 2 in Xuan Loc and one in the Southern Delta.

US Plans

In South Vietnam, on September 9, 1965 the US 2nd and 8th Battalion (BN)/12th Field Artillery Regiment (FA), the 6th BN/16th FA, the 1st BN/27th FA, the 2nd BN/31st FA and the 2nd BN/35th FA, all medium 155mm Howitzer Battalions, arrived in Cần Thơ in IV Corps. As well, the 8th BN/4th FA and the 6th BN/8th FA, 175mm Artillery Battalions arrived in Hue. Three USAF squadrons of F-105Ds and 3 replacement battalions of US Army troops arrived in Bien Hoa. Equipment arrived in-country to outfit and augment the entire 18 ARVN Division under its new commander, Major General Le Van Hung, and 14 Battalions-worth of replacement cadres were outfitted. One Battalion of ARVN Artillery were upgraded to the latest US 155mm howitzer models.

As Abrams prepared US and ARVN Forces for partnered operations in the Fall, the deliberations revolved around the retaking of Xuan Loc city in Long Khanh and Quang Tri Province as a whole. The PAVN withdrawal from the Nothernnmost province of South Vietnam made the latter a distinct, achievable possibility, much earlier than he or his Staff had anticipated. The recapture of Xuan Loc would be a bridge too far, unless ARVN elements could handle the job with minimal US assistance. The focus would still be on IV Corps, completing the clearing begun in the Summer.

NLF Strategic Shift

Viet%20Cong

The Viet Cong appeared to increase its presence in II and III corps overall, especially in War Zone C, War Zone D and Kontum Province, all historically VC Controlled Zones, that had been emptied for the Summer Offensive. The NLF appeared eager to retrench, reclaim familiar terrain, and possibly move to harassment and ambush tactics after the limited gains of Summer 1965’s exertions.

Interphase Resolution (and Exposition)

Please hit play before reading and turn to the coolest, mellowest, whiskey-on-the-rocks-tasting volume your brain or household will allow.

Frank Sinatra, “It Was A Very Good Year”. Reprise. #28 on the U.S. pop chart and Sinatra’s first #1 single on the Easy Listening charts in the Fall of 1965 and won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male in 1966.

Vital Statistics

Recordkeeping Phase (an ongoing Process)

Pacification Phase

So, every season, you go province by province and roll for Pacification. On the below chart.

And then you record them here.

The roll is modified in each province by these values.

Every Province in South Vietnam has a maximum and the roll ticks the SVN Control up or down. Every whole number level has a value divided in thirds: 3-, 3 and 3+ for example, then 4-, 4, and 4+. When the total is calculated you add each side’s whole number values, forgetting the “+”’s and “-“’s. That number, adding 70 (for Saigon and the rest of the Gia Dinh Capital Zone) is the SVN Population Controlled. Then that total, subtracted from 460 (the Grand total of SVN’s whole population) is the NLF Controlled Population.

The column the US Player rolls on is shifted Left (bad) if SVN Morale is less than 70. If 70-139, no shift. If 140+, one shift right (good). SVN has 68 morale. I should have rolled for 2 economic aid packages last season, but we screwed up. I rolled poorly (more later in this post) and only got +1 for each. So, no practical game effect.

The chart rewards whatever way the province is leaning already, in its curve. The US can’t do anything to practically aid pacification other than improving SVN Morale and sweeping NLF units out of Provinces. Some finer notes: if there is an odd number of NLF Units in a province and on non-town, capital or cultivated hexes, the number is rounded down. So, one unit in a jungle, for instance has no effect. 3 units in a Jungle are a -1, and so on. Also, this is the only time where the US gets to “have a say” about where Mr. NLF-man is located if he is on a provincial border hex. The US can declare one of those to be in a province of his choices. In all other game situations, whether that border is a provincial one or an International one, the NLF player decides.

I lost 7 population to 210 and the NLF gained to 150. Pacification is just rough for the US in every game-beginning situation. It’s the way it is. The country was falling apart. As well, you must arrive in country in entry ports, limiting operational reach,and you don’t have all your “stuff” yet. Against competent NLF play he is either going to spread out and try to sink Pacification country wide in areas or do what Curt did and smash and Grab some pacification mods in Aggressive War. But in many, many games playing both sides, I have never seen the US increase or stay even in the first Pacification Phase. The best I have seen was in a game against a new player playing the NLF ( who I was really advising and being collaborative with on the first turn, helping him to make the best moves and decisions possible). He set up most of his units on roads (I tried…) and I did about a billion security operations and a few Search and Destroys and CLEARED THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF VC UNITS except for one in Kontum, One in Tay Ninh, and One in Phu Yen, none in cultivated, so there were no negative modifiers.

I went down from 217 to 214.

Average is about 6-7 against competent play. 4-5 means the gods are with you. 10 is bad. 15 a disaster. Where and when luck intervenes has a lot to do with how rolls go. In Log Khanh, where Curt stacked the Capital, I rolled a 9, mitigating the damage, and I only went down by one whole p[op point (3 levels). In Chau Doc in IV Corps where I swept and destroyed concentrations and worked hard to get a -1 modifier only, I rolled a 4. Down one whole pop point (3 levels). To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a Season, turn, turn, turn.

So ultimately, I was…Ok…with the result. Bearable. I always want more, but this wasn’t a disaster or even bad. Three more seasons of that, and we’ll have problems.

Strategic War Phase

A. Mission Declaration Segment: I declare what I want to bomb, North Vietnam (Restrained or Unrestrained) and/or the Trail and how many Air Points I allocate. I allocate 22 of my 31 to Pound the North Unrestrained and Unflinchingly. Hamburg, baby. This is a war, not a game-theory calculation.

B. Strategic Bombing Segment: Still no NVN Air Defense built. No Trail Improvements have been made (he’s been buying Artillery to pound me and doing Offensives). rolled a 1 1for 22 Air Points conducting Unrestrained Bombing of the North. You take the number of Air Points and cross reference to the Row that corresponds with it given the low (‘0”) NVN Air Defense Levels at present. That’s row 10. I rolled a 1. Row 11. I had a 50% shot at 2 and a 50% shot at 3 Commitment destroyed. I am glad I guaranteed a minimum of 2. 2 NVN Commitment lost. Then I rolled a 1d6/2 (rounded down) +1 for its harm to US Morale. Rolled a 5/2=2+1, -3 Morale. No losses when Curt rolled again to see if I lost any Air Points. SVN Morale gets boosted +4 to 72 ( Important! ). Then I roll for 8 Air pints against the Trail (which is fragile, 1 hit, and he goes from 9 supplies per commitment point to 8 per). I am on Row 5. Whatever I roll will do 1. I hit the Trail, degrading it. Curt Rolls again, no losses.

C. Blockade Segment: 7 NVN Commitment was sent. That puts him on row 107. I have squadduch, nada, nuttin (choices). So that is a base 42 Supplies for him, =x2 the base commitment sent, (14) = 56 Sea Supplies.

D. Trail Status Segment: Status is one below optimal. Dinged.

Politics Phase

A. SVN Officer Replacement Segment: I must attempt to Mr. Incompetent and Absolutely Disloyal in II Corps. I succeed on a 5. Replaced by A0 with a 9 loyalty. Better. I opt to just do Mr. Totally Incompetent and Very Disloyal in III Corps. Failed on a 7. He grows more Disloyal. but no other ill-effects, though he’ll probably be Pro Coup After the Coup Roll. I try to replace the crappy 5th and 7th Division Commanders and roll a 9 and 11 respectively. They grow more disloyal and their (1 Armored Cav Squadron) Divisions are ineffective. Big Whup.

B. Coup Determination Segment: You roll 2d6 and compare it to the Two Star Loyalties. If the roll is less than their loyalty, they are Loyal. Same as their Loyalty, they are Wavering. Greater than their loyalty, they are Pro-Coup.
If there are more Pro-Coup Leaders than Loyal Leaders, there is a Coup. The Three Star gets put back in the Three Star pull and a new one is randomly pulled (it could be the same guy). The loyalty of every Loyal Two-Star Leader goes down by one. The US takes a -3 Morale hit and the SVN take a -8 Morale hit. Coups are bad.
If the Wavering and Pro-Coup Leaders combined are equal to the Loyal Leaders, the Government is Unstable. The US takes a -1 Morale hit and the SVN take a -3 morale hit. Unstable sucks.

If the Loyal Leaders Outnumber Wavering and Pro-Coup Leaders combined, the government is Stable. Lower the Loyalty of Pro-Coup Two Star Leaders by 1.

I rolled a “9”! Whew! I guess a lot of the Senior Command don’t like this “Land Reform” talk. Mr. III Corps now wins the new title of Mr. Incompetent and Absolutely Disloyal, his loyalty going down by one because he was Pro-Coup and the rest of the command told him to suck eggs. The two who are wavering worried me. If I can replace Mr Bobo next turn, then My No-Coup number will likely stay “9”

C. SVN Morale Adjustment Segment: You implement and calculate all the Morale adjustments for the SVN first. I am at 72 (up from 68 -after those two wimpy economic aid programs belatedly implemented- from the Unrestrained Bombing of the North). -2 for KY and -1 for Population level and then a large +10 for the 20% of new US Commitment last Season. 79 morale. This is good. But with Ky giving me a -2 each season and population still bleeding me, I’ll keep bombing and/or Economic Aid-ing until I get to a healthy Coup/Unstable-proof level.
Leader Loyalty Adjustment Roll-Now I roll on this table to see what wackiness happens with the ARVN Factions:

I roll, a 4! Sigh….all the C faction are annoyed with Ky. 3 Division Commanders (one who is on his way out) and worryingly the Chief of Staff, down to a 9. This is a very important dude. He is competent, and all units under his command are auto-effective based on the numbers. I need him. Stay loyal, General Vien! You are loyal, ramrod straight, and care about your country (he really was, one of the best, all the way around, that they had). Hang in there!

Morale Calculations

D. US Morale Segment: we already went down to 515 from 518 because of the Strategic Bombing. Now we are: -2 for US New Commitment of 16-25 and – another 5 for every portion of 5 above that (-5). -7 total. US Morale 508. Bringing in large amounts hurts.

E. NVN Morale Adjustment Segment: They go from 15 to: +5 if Morale below 40, because they are dedicated communist revolutionaries who know eggs have to be broken to make an omelet, +3 for US Commitment 51-75, and +10 (like SVN) for US New Commitment last season. New Morale, 33. Note that 50 New Commitment for the US is like a magic number for the US. The SVN can never benefit form higher than 20% of 50, but the NVN can.

Recruitment Phase

A. US, ARVN and FWA Placement and Withdrawal Segment

Withdrawals come before Placements. Anything Withdrawn can’t be placed that same segment.

US

Withdrawals: None

Builds: 23C (US Commitment 98, New Commitment now 23).

42 ARVN Supply (6C)

2 Economic Aid Packages (2C) – I roll a 1 and a 3 for each /2 round down +1. A 1 and a 2, 3 total added to SVN Morale, now 82.

6 US 155mm Artillery Independent Batteries (6C) (6 in Can Tho)

2 US 175mm Artillery in Hue (3C) (8/4, 6/8).

9 US Replacements (3C)

9 Air Points (3C)

ARVN

Withdrawals:

7th Division Cav from Qui Nonh (removes leader)

Builds:

1 Left Over, +5C for 42 = 43 Supply.

ARVN Draft at 53.

28 Replacement Points (7P/14S)

Build 18 ARVN Division Augmented in Saigon ( NOTE-Under the Chief of Staff ) – 4P/21S

Build 1 ARVN 155 Artillery Battery in Can Tho – 7S

Build 3 Division Armored Cav in Qui Nonh (1S)

Cost: (11P/43S).

End: ARVN Draft – 64, 0 Supply.

B. NVA and VC Placement: Curt places a lot of stuff I can’t see. What I do see are a lot of withdrawals. The Regiments of the 1 PAVN Division are removed. He gets 9 Commitment reduced from current levels.

C. Infiltration Segment: There isn’t anything o the Ho Chi Minh Trail in terms of units that can move on it. We’ll save this for another day.

D. Offensive Declaration Segment: Costs 10 NVN Commitment and can only occur if US Commitment is 150 or higher. We’re not there yet.

Curt sends file to me, I start a Vlog to record one roll to complete this diary entry.

Unit Status Phase
A. US Organizational Segment: I can alter my Brigades’ deployment Profile if all elements are stacked together. I do. Based on Curt’s builds (we’ll see maps in a second here) I turn the 1/5 Infantry (Mech) Brigade.

From this Road clearing, NVA-Huntin’ Bringer of Pain:

Bringer%20of%20Pain

To this:

Nice

A versatile Battalion grouping with great Brigade dedicated 155s (all in that hex next to the ARVN).

B. ARVN Effectiveness Roll: I roll 1d6 On the below table and compare with my current Leaders. This is the big enchilada, who can do what for the next two loooong game turns of Fall ’65 for the ARVN.

Also I have to roll less than or equal to a Corps commander’s rating +3 or all those independent Battalions in his Corps area are Ineffective. Ineffective means they basically can’t move and do nothing all Season.

I roll a 1. As good as it gets.

Watch out NLF. Safeties are off.

Vital Stats at Interphase End

Support at Interphase End

I and II Corps at End of Interphase. Note Curt’s increase in II Corps, sprinkling the coast and building in Kontum and the area near the Cambodian Border in III Corps. And a lot of Regiments broke down everywhere. I guess Giap won out. No double-down on Aggressive War for Fall.

III and IV Corps at End of Interphase. Lots of Firepower just arrived in IV Corps. And the 18 ARVN and the ARVN Marine Divisions are ready to handle Xuan Loc.

“But now the days are short; I’m in the autumn of the year. And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs. From the brim to the dregs. And it poured sweet and clear. It was a very good year."

Next: What will Fall Bring? Will IV Corps be cleared? Will Quang Tri be liberated? Xuan Loc? What surprises do the NLF have?

By the way, if anyone has any questions about the game or the narrative: rules, why who did what, what’s happening in the History, stuff about the music, really anything, feel free. It won’t disturb or “clutter” anything, and the initial post will be updated with bookmark quick links from time to time. I’m happy for this to be an interactive, discursive experience. If I wanted this diary chiseled on impenetrable stone, I would have blogged it. Talking about stuff here, well, it’s fun.