By David Hollins
Austrian troops have been recruited from territories as various as glossy Belgium, the Czech Republic, primary Romania and northerly Italy, besides volunteers from southern Germany and a sprinkling of Irishmen. the common soldier may have chanced on himself struggling with at any place throughout a space bounded by way of Belgrade, Kiev, Brussels and Milan in this interval, and in terrain as assorted because the Po valley and the Swiss mountains. Dave Hollins appears on the lifestyles and reports of either the normal infantry and the veteran elite of the Grenadier battalions, overlaying every little thing from their simple education and kit to the strategies and horror of the battlefield.
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Tanks and other AFVs were also useful for convoy escort, reaction and relief forces, reconnaissance-inforce, line-of-communications security, and base defense. Unfortunately they were all too often employed in the last two roles, which saw them used as “mobile pillboxes” without taking advantage of their mobility, firepower, and shock effect. When the French departed they left much of their Lend-Lease US light armor to equip the early ARVN units. This included M3A1 halftracks, M3A1 White scout cars, 37mm gun-armed M8 armored cars, and 75mm M8 self-propelled howitzers, plus some French 47mm gun-armed Panhard AMD 178B armored cars.
This Trung Si sports a “tigerstriped” helmet, and one of the red bandanas commonly worn by Rangers; under the circumstances the subdued black format of his single rank chevron, just visible below the BDQ left sleeve shield, seems pointless. (In subdued form the white stripes were in black and the yellow stripes in olive green). He too wears M1956 web gear, and is armed with an M16A1 rifle. Note his jungle boots, and the rucksack that he has just shucked off. This is the US-made type at first designed specifically for the BDQ, but later adopted throughout the ARVN.
With the advent of the M16A1 the BAR was replaced by an M79 grenade-launcher and the M1919A6s by M60 machine guns. From the final US withdrawal in 1972 battalions in MR I – the most vulnerable northern provinces – might have four to eight jeep-mounted 106mm M40A1 recoilless rifles in the HQ company, and some regiments were assigned two or three M220 TOW antitank missiles. While many factors must be considered in regards to complaints of poor ARVN performance, one that is seldom taken into account was the low ARVN manpower and equipment levels compared to equivalent US units.