IVY LEAF July 7, 1968
Threat To Highland
Communists ARVN Soldiers Undergo LRP Training
CAMP ENARI - South Vietnamese soldiers have accepted a new challenge in the war against the Communists in the Central Highlands. A selected group of ARVN soldiers recently finished a two-phased Long Range Patrol (LRP) training program, including an initial 20-day phase at Camp Enari, and 40 days in an integrated program with the division and brigade LRP members. The aim of the training program was to assist ARVN Forces in the development of their own LRP capability. The 60-day, two phase course was developed and taught by the division LRP members along with II Corps units.
The accomplishments of 4th Division LRP members have become widely known and this program gave the division an opportunity to share the knowledge gained in almost two years of LRP operations. Instruction was given with the aid of interpreters who were themselves LRP candidates. Similar courses for ARVN troops were also taught by other U.S. divisions. They were trained first in map reading, "which they were remarkably good at," said Sergeant John Miller of Milwaukee. "Then we went into VC tactics and weapons," the sergeant added. As with all teaching, the immediately applicable - maps, enemy tactics, and current survival techniques - were the most easily retained. Grueling physical training, culminating in a seven-mile run with equipment, pre-pared the aspiring LRP members for their future tasks in the field. "They seemed to find knots, rigging, and rappelling a challenge," said Specialist 4 Nick Pasdnikoff of Syracuse, N.Y. "They look forward to these classes." Eighty meters was the mark set for the swim-ming test held at the Air Force pool in Pleiku. The day not only tested swim-ming ability, it also attested to the fraternal warmth between teacher and student.
With the initial 20-day phase completed, the indigenous LRP members moved to the field for training with their U.S. counterparts. At the brigade as well as division level, the new LRP members underwent, a 40-day on-the-job training period. In this, the most important phase of their training, the Vietnamese moved in and lived with their experienced American counterparts. Operating with the established LRP teams, the Vietnamese members went along on actual patrols in enemy infested territory. They subsisted on their own native rations, packets containing rice, dried fish and shrimp. "It's a little bit different from what I have always been used to," said Corporal Phan Van Dat, returning from his first patrol in the Ia Drang Valley. "I was always working with large forces. With this small patrol, I felt as if I was almost invisible."
"They're all aggressive and all volunteers," said Williams Andrews of Jacksonville, Fla., com-manding officer of the 1st Brigade LRP teams. "They want all the missions they can get." At Camp Enari, where the division LRP headquarters is located, the Vietnamese candidates were again integrated with U.S. LRP members and even received special instructions in English. "The progress has been substantial. The AVRN LRP members have been learning from a close relationship with our own men," commented Captain David Christie of Rockaway, Okla., commanding officer of the division LRP members. "Given time, these scrappy and determined men will probably be better than we are," commented Sergeant Leonard Valeen of San Bernardino, Calif., a 2nd Brigade LRP member. "After all, it's their own backyard that Charlie is running around in."