Ia Dang Valley Analysis

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They Were Soldiers An analysis of Fire Support in the Ia Drang Valley and critical comparison to today’s United States Army Field Artillery Branch SGT Jonathon Frank, SSG Samuel Last, SGT Ryan Molaskey, SGT Jeremiah Schaller 13F Advanced Leader’s Course, Field Artillery Center of Excellence The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley took place on November 14th, 1965. It is known for impressive boots-on-the-ground leadership, is hailed as the first employment of the helicopter as an effective fire support asset, and is the first record of United States regular troops in Vietnam directly engaging the North Vietnamese Army in combat. This analysis of fire support employment during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley seeks to compare the innovations,…show more content…
forces” (Cash, 2001). COL Hal Moore, commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, stated in his After Action Report that his unit was “conducting search and destroy operations” (Moore, 1965). This operation was conducted in response to enemy assaults on Plei Me Special Forces Camp in the Pleiku province of Vietnam. While intelligence had assessed a battalion, another force of “undetermined size,” and a secret base were all within 3 kilometers of the templated Landing Zone X-Ray (Cash, 2001), a prisoner captured during the seizure of X-Ray told the interpreter, “that three North Vietnamese battalions were on the mountain, and they were all very eager to kill Americans” (Leonard, 2006). In the ensuing battle, often compared to the massacre of the Battle of Little Big Horn, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment relied heavily on fire support to “turn the tide of battle in favor of the Americans” (Leonard,…show more content…
First-hand account We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam, by Joseph Galloway, tells the story of the courage and hard fighting that occurred in that valley. This book was made even more popular by the film made after it, We Were Soldiers. A comparison of leadership, at any time, is difficult to conduct without first-hand knowledge. However, relatable events and occurrences do exist. The process of providing fire support is one that requires a streamlined process, quick-thinking individuals, and ready assets. The fire support process of today is considerably more streamlined and structured than that of the Vietnam War. The Army’s lessons learned in places like Ia Drang have paved the way for the tactics, techniques, and procedures used today. However, while the process and assets may be more streamlined and abundant, today’s leadership pales in comparison. A streamlined process is worth nothing if the gun crews are slow, the Fire Direction Center doesn’t check for safety concerns, and the Fires Effects and Coordination Cell fails to deconflict. Even with the lessons learned, firing incidents still occur in alarming numbers. From the transposing of grid coordinates, to the mixing up of target and friendly locations, many of today’s artillerymen do not exemplify the high standards of tactical and technical competency observed in the Ia

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