Photos by: CPL Dan Pinhorn and ABIS Chris Beerens, Iron Knob, SA.
The Australian Army soldiers from 1st Brigade put their skills to the test practising combined-arms operations within a complex and multi-national environment as part of Exercise Hamel 2016, being conducted in South Australia from 26 June to 14 July.
As the penultimate training activity, 1st Brigade conducted an urban clearance of a defensive position based at Iron Knob, a small steel community based on the outskirts of the Cultana training area.
M1A1 Abrams tanks provided support by fire to allow a ground assault and clearance of the town by dismounted infantry and mechanised vehicles. Extensive planning and coordination went into the activity to ensure the cooperation and safety of the local civilian population.
Conventional and asymmetric tactics were adopted by 7th Brigade soldiers playing the role of the enemy in order to test 1st Brigade within a complex setting similar to that encountered in modern warfare.
Army uses the ‘Road to Hamel’ to build up its next ready brigade and Exercise Hamel is the final test. This year, 1st Brigade is being put through its paces to ensure it is ready to support operational contingencies ranging from humanitarian assistance through to major combat operations.
Retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. “Hal” Moore, the American hero known for saving most of his men in the first major battle between the U.S. and North Vietnamese armies, has died. He was 94. “There’s something missing on this earth now. We’ve lost a great warrior, a great soldier, a great human being and my best friend. They don’t make them like him anymore,” Galloway said. Galloway, a former war correspondent for United Press International, said Moore was “without question, one of the finest commanders I ever saw in action.” Beginning on November 14, 1965, Lt. Col. Moore led the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the week-long Battle of Ia Drang. Encircled by enemy soldiers with no clear landing zone that would allow them to leave, Moore managed to persevere despite being significantly outnumbered by North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces that would go on to defeat the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry only two-and-a-half miles away the next day. Moore’s dictum that “there is always one more thing you can do to increase your odds of success” and the courage of his entire command are credited with this outcome. Moore was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism at Ia Drang. Moore died on February 10, 2017, three days before his 95th birthday. RIP Sir… RIP!
February 14-17, 1967 The 1st and 3d Brigades, 1st Infantry Division conduct Operation TUCSON, a deception operation (prior to the launching of JUNCTION CITY) along the south-eastern edge of War Zone “C” and the northern sector of the Long Nguten secret Zone and the Michelin rubber plantation. In addition to capturing 1,700 tons of rice and 27 tons of salt plus bombs and mines, they killed 13 VC.
U.S., British, French, Polish, Dutch and German paratroopers training alongside one another during the large scale exercise Swift Response 16 at the Hohenfels Training Area, a part of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, in Hohenfels, Germany, Jun. 22, 2016. Exercise Swift Response is one of the premier military crisis response training events for multi-national airborne forces in the world. The exercise is designed to enhance the readiness of the combat core of the U.S. Global Response Force – currently the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team – to conduct rapid-response, joint-forcible entry and follow-on operations alongside Allied high-readiness forces in Europe.
150226-A-DP764-054 by The U.S. Army Via Flickr: A team of paratroopers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, practice a tactical halt with the brigade’s new Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle on Fort Pickett, Va., Feb. 26, 2015. The 1st Battalion, 325th AIR developed tactics, techniques and procedures for tactical movement with the new LTATVs. The battalion is currently assessing the LTATV as a platform to provide a rifle company with rapid mobility in support of airfield seizure operations.
U.S. Soldiers and vehicles with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, during exercise Combined Resolve VII at the 7th Army Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Aug. 18, 2016.
During the course of the Korean War, the U.S. Army decided to phase out all vehicles based on the M24 Chaffee chassis, such as the M19 Gun Motor Carriage 40 mm Anti-Aircraft, in favor of designs that utilized the chassis of the M41. Since the 40 mm guns were still seen as an effective anti-aircraft weapon, the turret of the M19 was simply mounted to the M41 chassis with few changes except a partial redesign to accommodate the larger turret ring of the M41 and designated as the M42.
Production of the M42 began in early 1952 at GM’s Cleveland Tank Plant. It entered service in 1953 and replaced a variety of different anti-aircraft systems in armored divisions. In 1956, the M42 received a new engine and other upgrades along with other M41 based vehicles, becoming the M42A1. Production was halted in Dec. 1959 with 3,700 examples made during its production run.
Sometime in the late 50s, the U.S. Army reached the conclusion that anti-aircraft guns were no longer viable in the jet age and began fielding a self-propelled version of the HAWK SAM instead. Accordingly, the M42 was retired from front line service and passed to the National Guard with the last M42s leaving the regular Army by 1963, except for the 4th Bn, 517th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in the Panama Canal Zone, which operated two batteries of M42s into the 1970s.
The HAWK missile system performed poorly in low altitude defense. To ensure some low altitude anti-aircraft capability for the ever increasing amount of forces fielded in Vietnam, the Army began recalling M42A1s back into active service and organizing them into air defense artillery (ADA) battalions. Starting in the fall of 1966, the U.S. Army deployed three battalions of Dusters to the Republic of Vietnam, each battalion consisting of a headquarters battery and four Duster batteries, and each augmented by one attached Quad-50 battery and an artillery searchlight battery.
Despite a few early air kills, the air threat posed by North Vietnam never materialized and ADA crews found themselves increasingly involved in ground support missions. Most often the M42 was on point security, convoy escort or perimeter defense. The “Duster” (as it was called by U.S. troops in Vietnam) was soon found to excel in ground support. The 40 mm guns proved to be effective against massed infantry attacks.
Most of the Duster crew members had their AIT training in the 1st. Advanced Individual Training Brigade (Air Defense) at Fort Bliss, Texas. Some of the Duster NCOs had received training at the Non Commissioned Offices Candidate School which was also held at Fort Bliss, Texas.
The 1st Battalion, 44th Artillery was the first ADA battalion to arrive in Vietnam on November 1966. A self-propelled M42A1 Duster unit the 1st of the 44th supported the Marines at places like Con Thien and Khe Sanh Combat Base as well as Army divisions in South Vietnam’s rugged I Corps region. The battalion was assigned to First Field Force Vietnam (IFFV) and was located at Đông Hà. In 1968 it was attached to the 108th Artillery Group (Field Artillery). Attached to the 1/44th was G Battery 65th Air Defense Artillery equipped with Quad-50s and G Battery 29th Artillery Searchlights. The 1/44th served alongside the 3rd Marine Division along the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in I Corps thru December 1971.
The second Duster battalion to arrive in Vietnam was the 5th Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery. Activated in June 1966 it arrived in Vietnam in November 1966 and was diverted to III Corps, Second Field Force (IIFFV) and set up around Bien Hoa Air Base. Attached units were D Batter y71st Air Defense Artillery equipped with Quad-50s and I Battery 29th Artillery Searchlights. The “Second First” served the southern Saigon region through mid 1971. D-71st Quads remained active through March 1972.
The third Duster battalion to arrive was the 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery. Activated in June 1966 it arrived in Vietnam in June 1967 and set up operations in the Central Highlands, based out of An Khê (1967-70) and later Tuy Hoa (1970-71). Attached units were E Battery 41st Artillery equipped with Quad-50s and B Battery 29th Artillery Searchlights (which were already in country since October 1965). Members of these units not only covered the entire Central Highlands, but assets also supported firebases and operations along the DMZ to the north and Saigon to the south.
Each Duster Battalion had four line batteries (A,B,C,D) and a headquarters battery. Each battery had two platoons (1st, 2nd) which contained four sections each containing a pair of M42A1 Dusters. At full deployment there were roughly 200 M42 Dusters under command throughout the entire war. The Duster and Quads largely operated in pairs at firebases, strong points and in support of engineers building roads and transportation groups protecting convoys. At night they protected the firebases from attack and were often the first targets of enemy sappers, rockets and mortars. Searchlight jeeps operated singularly but often in support of a Duster or Quad section at a firebase.
Between the three Duster battalions and the attached Quad-50 and Searchlight batteries over 200 fatalities were recorded.
The three M42A1 equipped ADA units (1/44th, 4/60th & 5/2d) deactivated and left Vietnam in late December 1971. Most if not all of the in-country Dusters were turned over to ARVN forces. Most of the training Dusters at Ft.Bliss were returned to various National Guard units. The U.S. Army maintained multiple National Guard M42 battalions as a corps level ADA asset. 2nd Battalion/263 ADA headquartered in Anderson SC was the last unit to operate the M42 when the system was retired in 1988.
U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 8th Battalion, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, scan for enemies during Decisive Action Rotation 16-03 at the National Training Center, Jan. 20, 2016.
FORT IRWIN, Calif.