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Famous Fourth’s Third Brigade

Locks On NVA 24th Regiment

By 1ST LT Jim Hughes

"Now, first of the foeman of Boh Da Thone

Was Captain O’NeiI of the Black Tyrone,

And his was a company, seventy strong,

Who hustled that dissolute Chief along.

—They had hunted the Boh from the hills to the plain—

He doubled back and broke for the hills again:

They had crippled his power for rapine and raid,

They had routed him out of his pet stockade—"

From: The Ballad of Boh Da Thone

By: Rudyard Kipling 1888

Boh Da Thone, a romantic creation of poet/author Rudyard Kipling, may not be as well known as his North Vietnamese counterparts, but his problems were much the same.

Bob operated as a bandit in the jungles of Burma during the Burma Wars, 1883-1885. His "foeman" was a fictitious captain in the Queens Service called "Crook"

O’Neil. (From Maloon to Tsaleer the captain and his company of 70 men, "—the sun-dried boys of the Black Tyrone—", hunted the elusive Boh.)

Their untiring pursuit brought them ever closer, both physically and mentally, to their enemy. The longer they chased him the more determined they became.

The tactics employed by Captain O’Neil and his men are probably older than the Burma Wars. In the tactics of warfare, however, time-tested methods are often the best. With this in mind Famous Fighting Fourth Division troops of the 3rd Brigade, have taken a page from Captain O’Neil and brought it up to date. They call it the "lock-on concept."

In the lock-on concept a brigade unit zeroes in on an enemy unit by using all its intelligence gathering powers. When enough data on the enemy organization has been collected, the friendly unit will mobilize all of its available means and capabilities to pursue and finally destroy its adversary.

According to Colonel Richard L. Gruenther, 3rd Brigade commander from Arlington, Va.; "the foremost of foes facing the brigade in the Central Highlands is the 24th NVA Regiment." In November, 1965 the 24th entered South Vietnam. Since that time intelligence has continually been gathered in order to piece together a picture of this unit, its capabilities and mission.

Much has been learned from experience. The 24th, a part of the B3 front in Cambodia, has long been known as a tenacious defensive unit. From base camps dug in to the steep mountain slopes surrounding the central plains, the 24th has mounted attacks by fire against friendly military installations and civilian population centers alike. Their forays have also included the interdiction of supply routes, notably between Pleiku and Kontum.

Third Brigade units and their Vietnamese allies have been progressively denying the 24th its base camp areas, first in the Chu Pa and most recently in the Chu Prong near Kontum. In both areas accumulated intelligence has indicated the presence of troop concentrations and fortified positions.

Friendly units moved into each of ‘these areas and established base camps. From these fire-bases, search and destroy operations were, conducted flushing out the enemy. Air strikes and artillery were utilized to destroy his sanctuaries, and in each operation large weapons caches were uncovered.

In the ballad Kipling wrote:

"And, sooth, if pursuit in possession ends,

The Boh and his trackers were best of friends—."

It would be misleading to say that the men of the 3rd Brigade are "best of friends" with their enemy. But you could say they are very familiar with their adversaries in the 24th NVA Regiment.

The men of Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry battled with the 24th for eight days in the rugged forest of Chu Pa mountains, killing over 60 of the enemy. During this period Bravo Company was in almost constant contact, with the NVA as close as 25 meters from their positions. During the nights they could hear the enemy officers giving orders to their men.

At this writing, another 3rd Brigade unit, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, is facing this same enemy in the rugged Chu Prong Mountains southeast of Kontum. The men of the "Cacti Blue", from the Battalion commander to the private soldier, can speak with great authority on the 24th. Each day brings more captured records resulting in more information on the 24th.

They can tell you, for instance, the name, rank, serial number, date entered South Vietnam and weapon of each and every member of the K4 Battalion, 24th Regiment. They can even tell you his home of record.

Having "locked-on" to the 24th Regiment in this manner the men of the 3rd Brigade have been able to keep their foe continually on the defensive. In this manner they have reduced his effectiveness and his ability to continue aggression against the South.

In Kipling’s poem the "princely pest", Boh Da Thone, is hunted to a rather inglorious demise. Should the lock-on concept continue to prove as successful as it has recently, the NVA can hope for little better at the hands of the Allied Forces.

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