Command and Control South (CCS) at Ban Me Thuot, also commanded by a lieutenant colonel, consisted of 30 teams and an exploitation battalion. MACV had sought authority for the launching of such missions (Operation Shining Brass) since 1964 in an attempt to put boots on the ground in a reconnaissance role to observe, first hand, the enemy logistical system known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese). By 1969 the Ground Studies Group was running its operations from C&Cs at Da Nang for operations in southeastern Laos and at Ban Me Thuot for its Cambodian operations. The U.S. military (and MACV-SOG personnel) kept tight security over knowledge of the unit's operations and existence until the early 1980s. Casualties among the Special Commando Units (SCUs – pronounced Sues), as the indigenous mercenaries were titled, were: 57 killed, 270 wounded, and 31 missing. MACV had sought authority for the launching of such missions (Operation Shining Brass) since 1964 in an attempt to put boots on the ground in a reconnaissance role to observe, first hand, the enemy logistical system known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese). The Laotian Civil War that raged intermittently between the communist Pathet Lao (supported by People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) troops) and the Royal Lao armed forces (supported by the CIA-backed Hmong army of General Vang Pao and USAF aircraft) compelled both sides to maintain as low a profile as possible. This second reported attack led President Lyndon B. Johnson to launch Operation Pierce Arrow, an aerial attack against North Vietnamese targets on 5 August. The answer shocked intelligence analysts. They were supported by 3,068 SCUs, and 5,402 South Vietnamese and third-country civilian employees, leading to a total of 10,210 military personnel and civilians either assigned to or working for MACV-SOG.. In 1968, SOG recon teams conducted hundreds of missions gathering valuable intelligence but suffered 79 SF troops killed in action or missing. Although there had been some small leaks by the media during the conflict, they were usually erroneous and easily dismissed. For MACV and SOG, 1968 was a black year. Shining Brass was renamed Prairie Fire in 1968 and finally Phu Dung on 8 April 1971 , These operations (OPLAN 34-Alpha) were conducted in an effort to convince North Vietnam to cease its sponsorship of the Viet Cong (VC) insurgency in South Vietnam. Further, in conjunction with planning cross-border missions, Larry Thorne flew as the observer for many intelligence gathering reconnaissance 21–81, MACV Command History 1965, Annex N, N–VIII–4, MACSOG Documentation Study, Appendix D, p. 11–15, MACV Command History 1965, Annex N, N–VIII–8, MACV Command History 1966, Annex M, M–III–2–2, MACV Command History 1966, Annex M, M-I–A–1, MACSOG Documentation Study, Annex H to Appendix C, p. 11, Annex G to MACV Command History, 1967, G–IV–4, MACSOG Documentation Study, Appendix C, pp.  The Cambodian Civil War would escalate with the PRC backed Khmer Rouge (also backed by the exiled Sihanouk), fighting Lon Nol's central government.  MACV had sought authority for the launching of such missions (Operation Shining Brass) since 1964 in an attempt to put boots on the ground in a reconnaissance role to observe, first hand, the enemy logistical system known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese). I first reported on the anti-brass shining stance of the National Park Service after Memorial Day 2009.  Unlike the Cambodian incursion, however, the North Vietnamese stood and fought, gradually mustering 60,000 troops. Ambassador to Laos, was determined that he would remain in control over decisions and operations that took place within the supposedly neutral kingdom. The team consisted of two U.S. Special Forces soldiers and four South Vietnamese. The teams were to rely on stealth and were usually smaller in size than those that operated in Laos. Feb 66, Luc Luong Dac Biet (LLDB), An unidentified Vietnamese Lieutenant and a Sergeant, Kham Duc, Ops 35, Shining Brass, MIA (The facts regarding the loss of these men are unknown). Vietnam War–era American multi-service special operations unit, Never assigned an official crest or patch, SOG personnel accepted this unofficial self-designed insignia. Originally, these consisted of a continuation of the CIA's agent infiltrations. The plan called for SOG Recon Team Iowa, flying in a Sikorsky CH-34 helicopter of the South Vietnamese air force, to be dropped off along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and search for enemy supply dumps that could be bombed later by aircraft. His account of the Vietnam War, “A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam,” took him 15 years to write.  SOG recon teams in Cambodia now had all the air support that they needed. 354–355, Annex A to MACV Command History, 1964, p. A–1, MACSOG Documentation Study, Annex N to Appendix B, B–n–4–10, MACSOG Documentation Study, Annex A to Appendix C, pp. By the end of 1969, SOG was authorized 394 U.S. personnel, but it is useful to compare those numbers to the actual strengths of the operational elements. Operations into Laos commenced in September 1965 as part of Operation SHINING BRASS, renamed PRAIRIE FIRE in 1968. Ironically, MACV-SOG's role in the operation was only peripheral. of propaganda, and diversion of resources, against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The mission of the organization was, to execute an intensified program of harassment, diversion, political pressure, the capture of prisoners, physical destruction, acquisition of intelligence, generation The conundrum was what would happen had the program succeeded. Straight news, without propaganda embellishment, was broadcast from South Vietnam via the Voice of Freedom, another SOG creation..
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