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simple fly

Need To Read This Thailand Vets

Question

The perimeter was heavily wired with trip-flares to assist in detecting

i-ntruders. Unfortunately, there was no use of NODsdespite their availability.

Additionally, most of the perimeter observation towers were

unusually low and several were set back from the perimeter, thus hindering

effective observation of parts of the perimeter lines. Also, in June

1972, the base began the construction of 8lmmmortar pits.

._- -

Physical protection in the MMSarea had the potential of becoming highly

effective. Higher towers and adequate fencing surrounded the area; unfortunately,

several sections of lights were inoperative because required parts

were on back order from supply. Large areas of the defense perimeter were

149/

dangerously darkened.---

NakhonPhanomRTAFB. NKPalso had the usual rainy season vegetation

problems, but heavy use of herbicides kept the growth under control in the

fenced areas. Interior vegetation was usually kept closely cut. Lighting

around the straight perimeter was excellent and NF-2 Light-All units were

placed "at the'drainage ditches which went through the fences. High observation

towers located close to the perimeter afforded excellent visibility

at all points. .

As previously mentioned, a limited BPSdetection system was installed

in 1971 around portions of the"outer perimeter fence. Full coverage was

planned for late 1972. The aircraft on the flight lines were generally

69

I

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unrevetted and parked in line, which made them highly vulnerable to a standoff

attack or sabotage. However, the special Task Force Alpha Project,

located on the base, was protected by high revetments and was thus impervious

l~

to all but direct hits.---

Takhli RTAFB; WhenTakhli was reactivated in May 1972, a IIbare-base

defense" concept was implemented. Designed for locations where defenses

f~ were non-existent, the concept envisioned rapid deployment of fully-equipped

~,1 security personnel. Defense personnel were drawnfrom the SPECSprogramand equipment was to have either been brought with the units or supplied from

other PACAFresources. Unfortunately, in several cases the SPECSunits

came without any support equipment and in no case did they bring vehicles

or communications equipment. Consequently, they were dependent on PACAF

support. Extra equipment was drawn from several bases, including those in

Thailand, but the timeliness and quality of the support was frequently

less than desirable. For example, several battery chargers for the portabie

-radios<were 'inoperative when received, as was one of the M-60machine

151/

guns Ubonand NKPboth sent base communications stations to Takh1i,

but both were received without any transistors or tubes. The mobile radio

152/

unit from Korat was inoperative when received.---

On 15 Maythe base defenders, possessing only 15 portable radios,

were severely limited due to'the.cOmmunications deficiencies. They received

29 more in early June, but there were over 100 defensive posts to be manned

during the critical evening hours. Finally, on 1 July, Takhli received an

153/

additional shipment ~f 220 surplus radios from Vietnam.---

70

J.E.CH.T

Recognizing the critical communications problems, 7/13AF SP recommended

that all future SPECSplanning include four-channel radios in mobility

154/

equipment.---

Takh1i defenses were rebuilt by massive self-help operations using the

TDYsecurity forces. However, 13AFstaff inspectors reemphasized the same

admonition voiced earlier concerning the necessity to coordinate work order

requests with Civil Engineering for support in constructing physical defense

. 155/

aids.----

The single greatest problem faced by the defense unit was lack of

vehicles. There were no tracked Ml13 armored personnel carriers available

for Takhli. This restricted troop deployment during the rainy season.

Of the four smaller personnel carriers the SPs had, only one was operative.

In mid-June, over 55 percent of the few vehicles available were inoperative

due to maintenance difficulties. The defense force had the use of only a

few IIWI series co.m.batjeeps. However,the wing and base conunandershad

each indicated commandinterest in solving this problem by recalling such

156/

jeeps from other mission elements on the base.---

Since the security forces did not wish to use them, the base made no

use of trip-flares in its intrusion detection system. Nor were there any

perimeter lights installed as of June, although a proposal had been sub-

157/

mitted to 13AFfor approval .

Lack of sufficient vehicles and communications equipment in the early

days of the defense construction had severely hampered the defense posture.

71

I

158/

Fortunately, that posture was not tested.--- The greatest remaining problems

in June were the inadequate numbers of vehicles and the lack of perimeter

lighting.

UbonRTAFB. In the opinion of the defense personnel at UbonRTAFB

in 1972, the proximity of the perimeter defenses to the primary resources

constituted a serious weakness at this base. At the point of penetration

in June, the perimeter was less than 300 feet from the AC-130parking revetments.

This area compression limited the effective application of the threedefensive-

ring concept and seriously limited the fields of fire. The type

of perimeter fences varied; some sections of the fence consisted of two

lines of triple concertina wire, while, in other sections, the fence was

much less of a barrier.

Lighting on the perimeter was adequate under normal conditions, but

heavy rain frequently shorted out large sections of the lights. Back-up

Light-All unit~ were in short supply, even during periods of heightened

security. Ordinarily, 8lmmmortars were available to provide illumination

when needed. Unfortunately, observati'on devices were in short supply,

and the base only had 12 NODsavailable. Four Xenonlights were on the

base, but were not used either because the unit or its generator was

inoperative, or the special binoculars were not functioning.

A BPSintrusion detection system was programmedfor October 1972, and

plans had been made to fence the close-in defensive perimeter.

72

I

The MMSarea, six miles off-base, was defended in-depth with good

fighting positions and excellent observation towers. It was probably the

159/

most secure MMSarea in Thai1and.----

. Ubon had undertaken a unique approach to solve one of its problems,

that of controlling off-base vegetation. The ROEprohibited the use of

herbicides outside the perimeter, but Base Civic Action undertook the

project of having vegetation cleared 100 meters from the MMSarea fence

and had additionally contracted with local villagers to clear 150 meters of

dense underbrush from around the base perimeter. The project was inexpensive,

cleared a wide field for observation, and put money into the local

160/

villages, thereby helping to create good wi11.----

I

..,

Udorn RTAFB. Udorn City abutted a large area of the base, creating

detection problems. The perimeter was also very close to the aircraft

at several points, denying the defenders the necessary IIbattle roomll to

employ the three-d.ef.ensive-rings technique. Describing the situation

there, the chief of security police stated: IIInternal defense is inade-

161/

quate because of the geographic problems. Weare just too small! 11-

Deep drainage canals, or Ik10ngs," created further limitations on

the detection ability, but a BPSwas scheduled for installation in December

1972 to help alleviate some of those problems.

As previously mentioned, a long section of the perimeter was shared

with commercial airlines, specifically, Air America and Continental Airways.

73

I

1

This section was not defended in-depth. but fencing and some bunkers were

present. More active defense of this sector was planned after July.

The POLarea was in a corner of the base next to the town. Several

of the fuel storage tanks were less than 100 feet from civilian housing.

The MMSareas. both off-base. were very small and vulnerable to attack.

The interior munitions were revetted. but the openings to several of the

revetments faced the fence, greatly limiting the effectiveness of that

protection against a RPGattack.

The flight line area was well revetted, but there was little use

162/

of wire fencing to give depth to the close-in defenses.----

..,

U-TapaoRTNAF. Unlike Udorn and Ubon, which suffered from too little

battle space, U-Tapao defenses were almost engulfed by territory. Such

a massive amount of real estate forced dilution of both people and resources

committed to the defense effort. That dilution contributed to the weaknesses -.

demonstrated in January 1972. However"by June, the defense concepts were

altered and the main line of resistance was planned around the middle

defensive positions. Construction of physical barriers in this region

and installation of lighting still lagged. A BpSwas scheduled to ring

the close-in aircraft area defenses. the MMSarea, and the POLsite. Popup

mines had also been appro~ed for those areas.

The base had another unusual problem. There was a Thai village located

on the base inside the perimeter. This created difficulties, especially

in pilferage control.'

74

Vegetation control was all but impossible over the entire reservation.

Vegetation control was further hindered by the inability of the base to

get herbicides through supply channels during the entire first half of

1972.

Despite the eighteen and one-half miles of perimeter, U-Tapao possessed

only six NODs,and of those, only two were operative. The typical vehicle

maintenance difficulties also existed.

Essentially, U-Tapao's defenses were being restructured in mid-1972

in response to the lessons learned during the January attack. The plans

had been madeand the defense forces were occupied in constructing the

163/

physical barriers to prevent another penetration attempt by the enemy.---

/

'.

"

75

-&KfK.T

I

CHAPTERIV

CONCLUSION

In 1968, air base defense in Thailand was in its infancy. A series

of dariAg sapper attacks over the next four years did much to hasten the

evolution of defense concepts that were adapted in the effort to protect

vital USAFresources from such surreptitious assaults.

The Director of Security Police, 7/l3AF, tasked each base to develop

p:~ r~0 a plan stressing flexibility within certain set standards in preparing

their defenses. Although forced to counter the enemy threat from behind

static defense lines, base security forces demonstrated positive and inno-

~ vative thinking in reassessing and strengthening the physical fortifications

of the installations. Continuing consideration was given to more effective

utilization of the limited personnel and equipment resources available.

Various deficiencies existed, but they were recognized, and commandconcern

was focused"on their elimination.

If any lag in response to a perceived enemythreat existed, it was

in the preparation of effective countermeasures to enemy action other than

sapper attacks. Circulation control in flight line, POL, and MMSareas

-

to protect against a sabotage threat was,of ten inadequate. Also, the

risk of stand-off attack was'not, matched by effective defenses. As was

observed in Vietnam in 1969, liThe stronger USAFinternal base defense forces

have become, the more the enemy has re11ed on stand-off attacks, and the

76

threat of penetration by sapper squads has diminished.1I164/ Unfortunately,

the best security against such a threat was beyondthe control of the USAF;

a vigorous and regular presence by friendly armed forces in areas around

the external perimeter of the bases would have provided a powerful deterrent

to any hostile activity, but adequate RTGpresence was often lacking.

Security for the more obvious aircraft targets was generally good,

but in other areas also important to the combat mission, it was often

unsatisfactory. This deficiency was commonlyjustified on the premise

that defense resources were limited and lithe enemyhad never chosen to

destroy fuel or munitions before. II Of course, history has recorded many

attacks that were lithe first of their kind." Fortunately, such "reactiontype"

planning was the exception and not the rule in Thailand base defense,

and the vulnerability of such targets was recognized.

.,

Perhaps the best example of the attitude taken toward security on

the Thai bases was stated in late May1972 by the senior USAFSecurity

, :.. 165/

Policeman in the country.

Prime attention and interest has been rightly focused

on base perimeter defense and the capability to

detect and deal with hostile forces at this point

long before they have a chance to get to vital mission

resources. Wehave, however, at the same time failed

in somecases to provide adequate attention and security

coverage around and adjacent to vital mission resources.

Without jeopardizing our ,perimeter defense, we must take

a close look at the security being provided aircraft and

essential mission items. In looking at this problem

we must take into consideration factors which limit

our control over whocomes and goes on base and our

resulting lack of knowledge of whomay be secluded on

77

base at the end of the day. Wemust also consider

penetration of our defense and security through use

of subterfuge as well as outright undetected penetration

of the perimeter defense. Our circulation

control, security coverage and placement of sentries

in and around those areas must be such that it insures

that we detect and deal with hostile elements before

they destroy our resources. Wemust be as well prepared

as our security force, equipment and the

si tuati on wi11 permit. . . .

I':

I .,

'.

78

Edited by simple fly

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