What is a Firebase?

The nonsoldier doesn’t know what a firebase is and to explain it I went to the internet to get some information.  So here is the story:

A fire support base (FSB, firebase or FB) is a military encampment designed to provide indirect fire artillery fire support to infantry operating in areas beyond the normal range of direct fire support from their own base camps.

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An FSB was normally a permanent encampment, though many were dismantled when the units that they supported moved. Their main components varied by size: small bases usually had a battery of six 105 millimeter or 155mm howitzers, a platoon of engineers permanently on station, a Landing Zone (LZ), a Tactical Operations Center (TOC), an aid station staffed with medics, a communications bunker, and a company of infantry. Large FSBs might also have two artillery batteries, and an infantry battalion.

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A major innovation of the Vietnam War was the fire support base. Because there were no well-defined battle lines, fire support of maneuver units could not always be accomplished from secure, behind the line positions or from major base areas. Often, positions had to be secured in enemy-dominated territory.

By late 1966 the usual procedure was to establish fire support bases containing headquarters elements, medical facilities, and other support activities, as well as supporting light, medium, and sometimes heavy artillery. Setting up such bases became the routine opening phase of search operations. For example, the beginning of Operation JUNCTION CITY, 22 February-14 May 1967, included a drive by the 1st Infantry Division to open a road northward through War Zone C for the purpose of establishing fire support bases from which the maneuver battalions would operate and receive their artillery support.

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These early bases were often attacked by North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces, as they made ideal targets for enemy offensive actions. Eventually, because of the enemy’s inclination to attack such installations, fire support bases were established for the express purpose of decoying the enemy. In these instances, sophisticated target detection means including radar, sensor devices, and infrared night sighting devices were used to give warning of the enemy’s approach.

This combination proved to be eminently successful, and large numbers of attacking enemy forces were destroyed in several such battles at little cost in friendly casualties. The decoy concept was further expanded to include the deployment of fire support bases to facilitate screening of suspected major enemy avenues of approach.

MONTAGNARDS

The term Montagnard means “mountain people” in French and is a carryover from the French colonial period in Vietnam. The term is preferable to the derogatory Vietnamese term moi, meaning “savage.” Montagnard is the term, typically shortened to Yard, used by U.S. military personnel in the Central Highlands during the Vietnam War. The Montagnards, who are made up of different tribes, with many overlapping customs, social interactions, and language patterns, typically refer to themselves by their tribal names such as Jarai, Koho, Manong, and Rhade. Since Montagnard is still the most commonly recognized term for these people, it is the term used in this profile.

Many of the first group of Montagnard refugees in the United States adopted the term Dega as their name instead of Montagnard because of the latter’s colonial associations. Dega comes from the Rhade language and refers to a creation myth in which the first two Montagnards were named De and Ga. One was of Mon-Khmer heritage and the other of Malayo-Polynesian heritage, and all Montagnards are descendants of these first people of the Highlands, according to the myth. In fact, Montagnard languages are traceable to the Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian groups.

A Rhade term was chosen because among the first group of Montagnard refugees in the United States the Rhade were in the majority, and their language had been the lingua franca among the resistance fighters. The initial Montagnard organization formed in the United States in 1987 selected the name Montagnard Dega Association in an effort to establish an identity that was inclusive, independent, and recognizable to the community at large. Some Montagnards in the United States, though certainly not all, continue to identify strongly with the term Dega.

The literature on hilltribes in northern Vietnam and Laos that relies on traditional French sources sometimes refers to these peoples as Montagnard. However, the Montagnards from the Central Highlands of Vietnam should not be confused with hilltribe groups in other regions. The Montagnards from the Central Highlands are ethnically distinct from the Hmong and other hilltribe groups from Laos and from hilltribes from northern Vietnam even though they have similar histories of involvement with the U.S. military during the war in Vietnam and Laos. The Montagnards are also distinct from other ethnic minorities in Vietnam, including the Cham, a Muslim minority, who populate parts of Vietnam and Cambodia, and the Nung, as well as other tribal groups from northern Vietnam. A couple hundred Nung have been resettled as refugees in North Carolina and are developing an association with the Montagnards there though the traditions between the two vary significantly. Some Montagnard tribes have also resided in the jungles of Cambodia near the border of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, the border having been drawn by the French during their occupation.

Before the Vietnam War, the population of the Central Highlands, estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million, was almost exclusively Montagnard. Today, the population is approximately 4 million, of whom about 1 million are Montagnard. Of these, between 229,000 to 400,000 are thought to follow evangelical Protestantism. An additional 150,000 to 200,000 are Roman Catholic. The 30 or so Montagnard tribes in the Central Highlands comprise more than six different ethnic groups drawn primarily from the Malayo-Polynesian and Mon Khmer language families. The main tribes, in order of size, are the Jarai (320,000), Rhade (258,000), Bahnar (181,000), Koho (122,000), Mnong (89,000), and Stieng (66,000). The Rhade and Mnong are also known as the Ed and the Bunong.

As the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands, the Montagnards are completely different in their culture and language from the mainstream Vietnamese. The Vietnamese arrived much later into what is now Vietnam and came primarily from China in different migratory waves. Primarily lowland rice farmers in the south, the Vietnamese have been much more influenced by outsiders, trade, the French colonization, and industrialization than have the Montagnards. Most Vietnamese are Buddhists, belonging to varying strains of Mahayana Buddhism, although Roman Catholicism and a native religion known as Cao Dai also have large followings. Part of the Vietnamese population, especially in larger towns and cities, maintain Chinese traditions and language. The ethnic Chinese constitute the largest minority in Vietnam.

Physically, the Montagnards are darker skinned than the mainstream Vietnamese and do not have epicanthic folds around their eyes. In general, they are about the same size as the mainstream Vietnamese.

PTSD Overview

This overview is from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like combat, assault, or disaster. Below find information and a PTSD 101 online course that provide a basic understanding of PTSD. For additional materials, also see the PTSD Overview in the Public section of our website.

  • What is PTSD?
    This PTSD 101 online course provides an overview of PTSD including diagnosis history, diagnostic criteria and symptoms, prevalence, course, comorbidities, and risk factors for civilian and Veteran populations.
  • DSM Criteria for PTSD
    Information about the current DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
  • PTSD History and Overview
    Describes in detail the history of PTSD, the PTSD diagnosis, and the criteria needed to meet a diagnosis of PTSD.
  • Epidemiology of PTSD
    Explains epidemiology and important findings about PTSD including prevalence rates for different demographic or Veteran groups.
  • Overview of Psychotherapy for PTSD
    Reviews clinical practice guidelines for PTSD treatment. Includes discussion of research underlying unanimous support of cognitive behavioral therapies.
  • Clinician’s Guide to Medications for PTSD
    Discusses specific groups of medications used for treating PTSD, medications and psychotherapy, common barriers to effective medication treatment, excessive medications, and other considerations.

Click to see more

The Tet Offensive – Brief Overview

While the American people had been told repeatedly that there was a light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam, the deployment of some 525,000 troops had brought the United States no closer to achieving its limited political goals, and there would soon be a call for major new increases in troop deployments. In effect, the United States faced a stalemate in Vietnam because the enemy controlled the strategic initiative. During the early morning hours of 31 January 1968, the Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet, approximately 80,000 North Vietnamese regulars and NLF guerrillas attacked more than one hundred cities in South Vietnam. The military goal was to spark a popular uprising and, as captured documents revealed, “move forward to achieve final victory.” This final victory was not achieved, but psychological and political gains were made. The front page of the 1 February New York Times showed a picture of the U.S. embassy in Saigon under assault. Guerrillas had blasted their way into the embassy and held part of the embassy grounds for nearly six hours. All nineteen guerrillas were killed, as were four MPs, a marine guard, and a South Vietnamese embassy employee.

The enemy sustained major losses at Tet, from which it would take years to recover. But Tet also demonstrated the enemy’s great skill in planning, coordination, and courage. North Vietnamese regulars and NLF forces had successfully infiltrated previously secure population centers and discredited Saigon’s claims of security from attack.

On 27 February, Johnson received JCS chairman Earle Wheeler’s report on military requirements in South Vietnam. The document contained a request for 206,000 additional troops. To some, this was proof of the bankruptcy of the army’s strategy in Vietnam. Despite the large enemy losses during Tet, the United States was no closer to achieving its goal in Vietnam than it had been in 1965. There appeared to be no breaking point in the enemy’s will to continue the struggle indefinitely. The new reinforcements would bring the total American military commitment to three-quarters of a million troops. It was becoming increasingly evident that no amount of military power would bring North Vietnam to the conference table for negotiations.

That same evening CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite told the nation that the war was destined to remain deadlocked:

We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds…. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.

Quotes

You can kill ten of my men for everyone I kill of yours, but even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.

–Ho Chi Minh to the French, late 1940s

You have a row of dominoes set up; you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is that it will go over very quickly.

–Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954

Now we have a problem in making our power credible, and Vietnam is the place.

–John F. Kennedy, 1961

This is not a jungle war, but a struggle for freedom on every front of human activity.

–Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

Tell the Vietnamese they’ve got to draw in their horns or we’re going to bomb them back into the Stone Age.

–Gen. Curtis LeMay, May 1964

We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.

–Lyndon Johnson, Oct. 1964

We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.

–Ronald Reagan, 1964

We should declare war on North Vietnam. . . .We could pave the whole country and put parking strips on it, and still be home by Christmas.

–Ronald Reagan, 1965

I see light at the end of the tunnel.

–Walt W. Rostow, National Security Adviser, Dec. 1967

The war against Vietnam is only the ghastliest manifestation of what I’d call imperial provincialism, which afflicts America’s whole culture–aware only of its own history, insensible to everything which isn’t part of the local atmosphere.

–Stephen Vizinczey, 1968

Let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.

–Richard M. Nixon, 1969

I’m not going to be the first American president to lose a war.

–Richard Nixon, Oct. 1969

This war has already stretched the generation gap so wide that it threatens to pull the country apart.

–Sen. Frank Church, May 1970

By intervening in the Vietnamese struggle the United States was attempting to fit its global strategies into a world of hillocks and hamlets, to reduce its majestic concerns for the containment of communism and the security of the Free World to a dimension where governments rose and fell as a result of arguments between two colonels’ wives.

–Frances Fitzgerald, 1972

We believe that peace is at hand.

–Henry Kissinger, Oct. 1972

You have my assurance that we will respond with full force should the settlement be violated by North Vietnam.

–Richard Nixon in a letter to President Thieu, Jan. 1973

If the Americans do not want to support us anymore, let them go, get out! Let them forget their humanitarian promises!

–Nguyen Van Thieu, April 1975

Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America–not on the battlefields of Vietnam.

–Marshall McLuhan, 1975

Today, America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. These events, tragic as they are, portend neither the end of the world nor of America’s leadership in the world.

–Gerald Ford, April 1975

Vietnam was what we had instead of happy childhoods.

–Michael Herr, 1977

Some of the critics viewed Vietnam as a morality play in which the wicked must be punished before the final curtain and where any attempt to salvage self-respect from the outcome compounded the wrong. I viewed it as a genuine tragedy. No one had a monopoly on anguish.

–Henry Kissinger, 1979

It’s time that we recognized that ours was in truth a noble cause.

–Ronald Reagan, Oct. 1980

There is the guilt all soldiers feel for having broken the taboo against killing, a guilt as old as war itself. Add to this the soldier’s sense of shame for having fought in actions that resulted, indirectly or directly, in the deaths of civilians. Then pile on top of that an attitude of social opprobrium, an attitude that made the fighting man feel personally morally responsible for the war, and you get your proverbial walking time bomb.

–Philip Caputo, 1982

Above all, Vietnam was a war that asked everything of a few and nothing of most in America.

–Myra MacPherson, 1984

No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now.

–Richard M. Nixon, 1985