Infantry operations - John 'Doc' Mountain

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Extract from an interview with Claire Hall, 28 January 2008

Reproduced with permission of John 'Doc' Mountain

We were deployed in, as you say, search and destroy operations. That's where you patrolled quietly and carefully, and tried to find track and movement of the enemies across the ground you were given in your operational zone, and track it and try and find out where they were camping or what their movements were, so it was a bit of an intelligence gathering information. If you can find where they were moving and they were moving fairly recently, you had the opportunity to set ambushes and/or attack a campsite or bunker system, with support obviously. So there was a range of set scenarios that depicted how you operated, whether you operated as a full company or as individual platoons.

The way the New Zealand companies were set up, their standard infantry company consisted of a company headquarters and three rifle platoons. In our case, we would have additional infanteers attached to the company headquarters, so we were in fact a fighting platoon strength as well. So we could operate with four rifle platoons, and [this] gave us a greater flexibility in terms of covering the ground and setting up ambushes, or doing cordon and search, where you might surround a village and go through the village that's suspected of providing food for the enemy or harbouring the enemy in hidden sights within the village, so you often would get involved in that type of hamlet searching. You could be, as I say, just straight patrolling to gather information. You could be involved in a bigger operation in terms of stock groups and ambush group. If the enemy's moving out of an area you could be doing observation work, you could be doing protection, perimeter protection around an engineer project, mining roads or helping the local population with a building project or whatever. Then you would spill out into the surrounding area to protect that activity from encroachment and attack from the Viet Cong. So it was quite a diverse range of operational activity, and it was really, we fitted in to what the overall battalion operation for the whole of the Phuoc Tuy province, and of course what the MACV headquarters decided would be, how we would be deployed.


Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage

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