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Landing Force - Then and Now (cont'd)
HERE AGAIN, today's landings have changed quite a bit since the World War II actions. In those days, the concept was to land the troops, establish a beachhead, then push inland until the island was taken.
In Vietnam, the troops land, flush out the Viet Cong, then return to the river bank and the waiting landing craft. Then, on to the next landing zone. Where largescale landings have always been known as assaults, these relatively small probes are called raids.
Although these raids are normally search- and-destroy operations, the jobs assigned to the landing forces are not always destructive. For instance, one amphibious landing early this year was designed to, save the rice harvest of a small South Vietnamese village. The landing force was put ashore, then the troops took up positions all around the village and its rice paddies.
AROUND AND AROUND - Assault craft circle landing ship dock USS Alamo (LSD 33) in preparation for amphibious landing during operation Deck House II.
The presence of the U. S. troops discouraged an attempt by the Viet Cong to raid the village and destroy the rice harvest. When the rice was safely garnered, the U. S. forces left the area.
Another nondestructive element being used 'extensively in the Vietnam amphibious operations is the Civic Action Team, Made up of a doctor and a few hospital corpsmen and dental technicians from the ships of the amphibious ready group, these small teams land with the Marines during each amphibious assault.
Besides the Viet Cong, the South Vietnamese villagers have other problems. Sickness is one of them. The civic action team sets up a clinic in the village, enabling the people to receive much-Deeded medical attention. This goes over big with the villagers, and makes friends for our side.
In one visit recently, 150 dental extractions were performed; over 400 patients were treated for various illnesses, and medicine, soap and vitamins were distributed among the villagers.
LOOK OUT VC - Smoke rises from strike by bombers as VC is softened in amphibious search and destroy operation.
The war in Vietnam has presented many new problems to U. S. forces fighting there. However, the Navy has always met fresh problems with even fresher solutions. Hence, the new look in amphibious operations in the Pacific.
Feature length movies were needed to tell of the Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal landings. In Vietnam, a long series of short shorts would do.
Jim Teague, J01, USN