Unconventional Warrior

Unconventional Warrior Blog

Dangerous Dan's Unconventional Warrior blog ran from August 2002 until December 2004.

Part One

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The Unconventional Warrior

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The Unconventional Warrior, by LTC ‘Dangerous’ Dan Marvin

Part One: Origin and Missions

 August 2, 2002 

This is the 50th Anniversary Year of the US Army's Special Forces (SF) and a reason to celebrate the awesome capability of this organization's unconventional warriors. It is also the time to recognize the absolute need, when such an organization exists, to establish systematic and certain safeguards to defend against the possible development of an uncontrollable covert activity by a power bent commander given unbridled authority over men. material and events.

Retired former OSS operative and later Green Beret Colonel Aaron Bank, founder of the US Army's Special Form, perhaps best known as the Green Berets, wrote the book, From OSS to Green Berets, published In December 1987 by Pocket Books. In it he writes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff decision to activate the Psychological Warfare Center and a Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg on 1 May 1952. Colonel Bank would be the Psy War Center Activator and the new Group Commander. In mid-June of that same year Colonel Banks relates, "I received my orders to assume command of the 10th Special Forces Group (Abn.).the first such unit ever to be allotted to the regular Army. On 19 June 1952, 1 activated the unit and assumed command."

From the beginning, Colonel Banks was, in his own words, "determined to obtain a level of proficiency equal to or better than the unit's OSS predecessors and at least on par with the CIA covert operatives. Training in the field of clandestine operations would not be neglected in favor of the more exciting field of overt guerrilla warfare. The whole gamut of unconventional warfare operations would be covered thoroughly."

Cross-training was a continuing function of instruction, recognizing the need for each man to be able to function well in every facet of unconventional warfare with exception of the complex and demanding fields of communications and medical aid. Specialized training in those areas was a continuing and rigorous activity due to the technical complexity of these fields. Special needs of a force operating in an environment that calls for an SF NCO to perform in a capacity normally performed by a code an electronics specialist. or in the case of the medical aid man — a physician.

"The reason for my insistence in cross-training," Colonel Banks explained, "was that in conducting operations a team would often be split among guerrilla groups, where a SF trooper would be responsible for all the functions conducted by the team — organizing, instructing, equipping and leading when necessary. He would be on his own with very infrequent supervision.”

Understanding from his own combat experience as an OSS irregular led him to also insist that an SF trooper be functionally capable in the areas of supply, equipment recording, storage and maintenance operations.

I would learn that the introduction of Civil Affairs, Military Government and Psychological Warfare training in the SF Officers! Course gave Special Forces the capability to operate independent of higher level command or control while performing covert missions; for the CIA and overt unconventional operations as determined optimum by the ranking member on the ground when all known situations were taken into consideration. Such was the case in An Phu where my independent command encompassed Special Forces operations, district government, border control, CIA missions and provision of security for the 64,000 South Vietnamese Hoa Hao people who lived in An Phu. Of utmost significance were the first-ever TOP SECRET mission to assassinate a head of State and permission to take the war into the enemy's Cambodian Sanctuaries with the specific knowledge that we would have no higher level air, ground medical evacuation or artillery support when inside Cambodia.

Next week — Part Two: Secret Orders & Compartmentilization.

The way of the men who consider the impossible as something that "just takes a little longer."




Part Two

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The Unconventional Warrior

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The Unconventional Warrior, by LTC ‘Dangerous’ Dan Marvin

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Two — Secret Orders & Compartmentalization

 August 9, 2002 

I asked to serve in what was described to me as an “unusual” airborne activity in France. I arrived at the US Army Aerial Support Center at St. Andre, a small town 60 miles southwest of Paris, on 16 May 1960, and assumed the duties of officer in charge of unconventional airborne logistical support. This assistance was for special operations conducted by units of the 10th Special Forces Group out of Bad Tolz, Germany and included storage and maintenance of parachute equipment and classified stocks (from guns & ammunition to c rations) of equipment and supplies necessary to support their cloak and dagger type operations throughout the European Theater.

The center was established at a former WWII German air base with substantial concrete runways that had been used to launch Luftwaffe raids against Great Britain in World War II and included a railroad siding built to service the base.

“The impossible just takes a little longer,” boasted the Green Beret Captain whom I met there during the summer of 1962, shortly after I was promoted to Captain. I would soon learn his boast was actually a true statement of his elite organization’s proven prowess. He’d brought two Special Forces (SF) “A” Teams to St. Andre to coordinate logistical support of a TOP SECRET [1]/COSMIC mission to arm, train and lead Polish patriots on the ground against the Russian occupiers. Those men in their Green Berets had done and would yet do what most others, with the notable exception of the US Navy SEALs, would consider unattainable.

The preparations for SF military assistance to Poland were directed by the headquarters of Special Operations Task Europe, (SOFTE) a super-secret organization. The mission would be to support Polish patriot forces in guerilla warfare against their Russian oppressors. Once the SF teams from the 10th SF Group were on site at St. Andre, we developed a [2] bundle code tailored to their projected on-the-ground operational needs.

When cleared for the operation, we would prepare and load the two A Teams with pre-rigged 500-pound bundles aboard C-130 aircraft that would arrive at St. Andre from Evreaux-Fauville Air Base on order of SOFTE headquarters. The bundles would carry weapons, ammunition and other supplies to equip a guerilla force of approximately 200 irregulars.

It was during this waiting period that the SF Captain briefed me on the concept of compartmentalization. Basically it is a way that covert operations are controlled in an environment of deniability. He commanded the force to be inserted and reported to a control unit at SOFTE rather than his own SF unit once his group was on the ground in the objective area. At St. Andre, I would be his only contact. He made that clear by reminding me that I was the only officer at St. Andre cleared for TOP SECRET/COSMIC, a matter that angered our Center Commander, LTC Edward J. Downing, when messages from SOTFE were marked for my eyes only.

It was an exciting time and I felt good knowing that I was playing a small part in helping the Poles get out from under Russian domination. Once in the air they would cruise at an altitude of 30,000 feet to a specified area where they would be guided by an Air Force homing device dropped in earlier. Polish guerilla forces would be there to meet the Green Berets who would drop in using the HALO method.

One hour prior to scheduled loading time I received a message from the White House through SOFTE, simply saying, “Mission aborted,” We were not told why. I wonder yet what happened to those brave Poles who waited in vain for the arrival of people and material to aid their struggle.

1. COSMIC: TOP SECRET (TS) security classification that permitted access to TS material in all of NATO to cleared individuals.
2. US Army FM 31-21 Sep 61, Appendix II.
Next Week — Part Three: Orders to Kill



Part Three

Written by
The Unconventional Warrior

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The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC ‘Dangerous’ Dan Marvin

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Three - Orders to Kill

 August 16, 2002 

I was behind my desk at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, when we received word that President Kennedy had been shot. Yuma was where we busied ourselves testing parachutes and airdrop equipment of US and foreign origin. The news of his assassination hit us, as it did the entire nation, like a shock-wave and got me thinking about the Army’s Special Forces, remembering what they had meant to JFK.

The very next day I volunteered for Counterinsurgency and Guerrilla Warfare training. By mid-January of 1964 I was a student at the Special Warfare Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and on my way to earning the right to wear the Green Beret. I recalled how the Commander-in-Chief had described that special headgear as “the symbol of excellence, the mark of distinction, the badge of courage” and I wanted, more than anything, to be a part of that elite group of unconventional warriors he had admired.

The training was accomplished by highly motivated instructors, all of whom, with exception of the few CIA “advisors,” had seen at least one year of combat as a Green Beret. CIA personnel were involved in instruction related to terrorism and assassination techniques, to the extent of going into detail on how the JFK “hit” was perpetrated, including film footage and photographs taken in Dealey Plaza that fateful day. This Top Secret instruction was given on “Smoke Bomb Hill” in an old cantonment area at Fort Bragg. One classroom-type wooden building with raised stage, surrounded by barbed-wire topped fences and patrolled by MPs or guard dogs, was the training facility used for such highly classified subjects.

I shared a “gut feeling” with a few others in my class that our CIA instructors had first-hand knowledge of what happened in Dallas. A sobering thought, particularly so in view of my motives for joining Special Forces. During a coffee break one day, an instructor casually remarked on the “success of the conspiracy in Dallas,” tending to confirm my suspicions that the President’s murder was conceived, executed and covered up by high-level echelons within our government. I attempted to rationalize this by believing there had to have been compelling reasons, with no malicious intent as such on the part of loyal Americans who deemed it necessary, at significant risk to themselves, to wrest the White House from one considered ill-equipped to lead our nation in those troubled times.

What I subsequently gleaned led me to believe that evil factions in certain agencies within our government had engineered and executed the conspiracy that left President Kennedy dead. The acknowledgement to me by the Don of a Boston area Mafia family that he had refused a “Company” (CIA) request for use of his people in the “hit” on JFK will be covered in detail in Part 7: An Offer From the Don.

On 4 January 2001 former Green Beret Captain John J McCarthy Jr., an officer who does not endorse my book Expendable Elite, told me he had received word from a former Miami Police detective that “…they had word on the street that Kennedy was going to be shot in Miami” and that was a month before he was assassinated in Dallas — and that plans were changed for JFK’s safety, fed my appetite to dig deeper into what I believed to be a conspiracy. McCarthy concluded by telling me, “This information was turned over to the Secret Service, but it never made it into the Warren Commission or any other files.”

As I sat riveted to my TV set in November 1993, viewing a lengthy 30th anniversary documentary on the assassination in Dallas, I was hit between the eyes with a fact that shook me to the core, took me back in time to August, 1965 and reinforced my belief in the reality of CIA directed political assassinations. At the documentary’s conclusion I was stunned to see the name of William Bruce Pitzer flash across the screen in a list of violent deaths putatively linked to the cover-up of a conspiracy to kill JFK.

It was early in August, 1965 that I was asked by the CIA to kill US Navy Lieutenant Commander William Bruce Pitzer.

Next week: Part Three — Orders to Kill (continued)



Part Three b

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The Unconventional Warrior

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The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC ‘Dangerous’ Dan Marvin

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Three - Orders to Kill (continued)

 August 23, 2002 

The ordinary took on the extraordinary during what began as a routine day in the 6th Special Forces Group cantonment area at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. As the Group S-4 I supervised the logistical support of our 1200 unconventional warriors, whether they were in training at or near Fort Bragg or operating around-the-globe as small teams of Green Berets assisting other nations in counter-guerrilla, anti-terrorist, civic action or psychological warfare activities.

Shortly after lunch I was summoned to our headquarters where Colonel C. W. Patten told me that a ‘Company man’ was waiting in the nearby pine trees to meet with me. Though Colonel Patten was my commanding officer, he had no idea what it was about, familiar only with the fact our visitor was looking for a ‘volunteer.’

“Its the way the ‘game’ is played,” I thought to myself, all the while feeling the beginnings of an adrenaline surge, that shot of extra strength and endurance needed to get me through impossible situations. My mind conjured up wild thoughts about the yet unknown: what sort of intrigue might be in store for the ‘volunteer’ he was seeking? Only too soon I would learn what I thought at the time to be too much. I now thank God for what I learned in that moment of truth from a CIA Operative searching for a volunteer that would open a door to unlock part of the mystery surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the untimely demise of those who would open the can of worms that surrounded the conspiracy cover-up.

Perhaps a hundred yards into the wooded area behind Group headquarters a slender man of about 5’10” waited. Dressed casually in short sleeves, light slacks and sunglasses appropriate for the August heat, he flashed his ID, shook my hand and spoke to me in a low and steady voice, asking if I would terminate a man who was preparing to give States secrets to the enemy — a would-be traitor? Not only was I an overzealous patriot at the time, I was trained in assassination techniques and told that I could be asked to volunteer for such a mission outside the United States. Performing that type of mission ‘outside the US’ was a crucial factor in our ‘understanding.’ Along with the others undergoing the same type of training, I was led to believe that the ‘resources’ of the Mafia were to be drawn on by the CIA via an ‘arrangement’ with them for the fulfillment of Stateside contracts. I was unaware of any rift that had developed between family Dons and the CIA hierarchy. I assumed the ‘hit’ would be overseas as I was on special orders to report to the 5th Special Forces in South Vietnam some four months hence. Without hesitation I said “sure,” thinking that once I was in Vietnam I could easily be flown via CIA owned Southern Air Transport to wherever my ‘target’ happened to be at that time. Once I had accomplished my mission I would return to 5th Group as arranged by the agent in charge, who would be the only one knowing where I’d been or what I’d done.

It was then told to me that it was Lieutenant Commander William Bruce Pitzer whom they wanted “taken care of” before his retirement at Bethesda Naval Hospital. I refused because it was to be done in the United States. As I left, the agent went on to meet at least one other Green Beret officer that afternoon, perhaps finding a volunteer to do his bidding: LCDR William Bruce Pitzer was found shot dead in his office on 29 October 1966, victim of an assassination conspiracy, shot down in cold blood before he could show the world what he knew about the JFK assassination.

Next week… Part Four: Smoking Gun — The Pitzer File 
(Prelude to a forthcoming book in the SPECIAL OPERATIONS series)



Part Four

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The Unconventional Warrior

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The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC ‘Dangerous’ Dan Marvin

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Four: Smoking Gun — The Pitzer File

August 30, 2002

A dynamite book is in the works that will, if taken seriously by citizens and elected officials alike, be an inspiration for those who possess the integrity, courage and will to demand a renewed investigation into the deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Jr., and those whose deaths were attributed to strange causes. Those same people were involved in one way or another in an attempt to foil our government’s cover up of the JFK assassination itself.

Explosive in its many revelations, it is tentatively titled, SMOKING GUN - The Conspiracy to Kill LCDR William Bruce Pitzer. Kent Heiner and I will co-author this work. I have found Kent to be a man of integrity anxious to portray the truth in such a way as to elicit a crusade-like fervor among his readers. He is unafraid, once personally satisfied it is fact, to point the finger of suspicion at those persons or entities that are guilty of wrongdoing or its cover up. There is no substitute for truth and justice and it is that fact that dictates what is written and referenced in the factual accounts filling this book of truth, telling the reader of murder, intrigue, intimidation and subterfuge. Those are the hard and fast elements that surround the October 1966 termination of a US Naval Officer. They also relate to the probable destruction of irreplaceable evidence that could, if available, contribute immeasurably to an eruption of truth by virtual reality to encompass, capture and judge those persons and forces that engineered, perpetrated and covered up the assassination of a President who was getting in the way of a blossoming hierarchy of an evil-permeated government.

It is my personal judgment, shared by members of the deceased’s family and a Navy associate in whom he had confided, that his having sole possession of irrefutable photographic evidence of the actual autopsy of JFK, evidence that would prove it to have been multiple bullet wounds that caused JFK’s death, thereby destroying the myth of a lone gunman our government had perpetuated, is what gained him a place on our government’s “hit list.”

Not wanting to take away from Heiner’s book, but wanting to provide the expectant reader an inkling of why the book SMOKING GUN should be on his or her “must read” list, I offer the following questions that attack government denial of a conspiracy and their mythical insistence on the suicide theory:

  • Why else, during the first week of August in 1965, would I have been asked by an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency to kill William Bruce Pitzer, telling me that he was a “traitor” about to sell State’s secrets to the enemy?
  • Why, if he were going to use a pistol he allegedly had in his possession to commit suicide, would he write and place a note in his office that read, “Remind me to return gun to Sec Off [security office]?”
  • Is it proper to conjecture that whoever killed Pitzer waited patiently until the 29th day of October in 1966 when Pitzer, close to retirement, would retrieve the highly sensitive evidence from its hiding place (perhaps in the false ceiling of his office?), murder Pitzer and retrieve (perhaps destroy?) that incriminating and indeed irreplaceable photographic evidence?
  • Why was the weapon that killed Pitzer assumed to have been in his possession when there was no proof that he had, in fact, ever signed for the weapon on that day? The FBI investigation states that “an undated notation that a .38 caliber revolver, serial number 311546 had been checked out for Lieutenant Commander William Bruce Pitzer. The signature under this notation was illegible,” (emphasis mine). I don’t know about others who read this who had experience in the military - but during my 21 years in Uncle Sam’s Army I never knew nor heard of a weapon, particularly a sidearm, being taken from an arms room (or security office) without the individual himself signing for that weapon on a specific dated entry.
  • Why are there two death certificates for one death?
  • Why did the FBI investigation tell of one being prepared by Deputy Medical Examiner John G. Ball of the State of Maryland, who, according to the FBI report, told the Navy’s Investigative Service that he (John G. Ball) had “observed muzzle marks around the wound and powder burns” when Pitzer’s autopsy findings showed no powder burns or muzzle marks?
  • Why was the US Navy’s Death Certificate on Pitzer dated 1 Feb 67 when he was killed on 29 Oct 66?
  • Why, when the 143 page documentation (including undated cover letter of three pages) of the FBI investigation into the death of William Bruce Pitzer provided by the FBI and received by me on 2 August 1997, included multiple examples of US Navy requests made to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover for examination of certain items forwarded by the US Navy to the FBI, specifically “A .38 caliber Smith & Wesson (S&W) revolver, military issue, serial #311546 found near body” as noted in the Naval Investigative Service Office Washington’s 1 November 1966 letter to J. Edgar Hoover (File # 20- BE/DEA/js Ser: 1956, is it a fact that the complete report contains no reference to the finding of or the lack of fingerprints or the lack thereof on this pistol? The answer to the aforementioned question is extremely important inasmuch as the investigative report tells of Pitzer committing suicide by a right-handed self-inflicted handgun wound in the head and yet Pitzer’s associate whom he had shared the fact and the essence of his secret possession of the autopsy photos, Dennis D. David, told me unequivocally, when I first spoke with him, that his friend William Bruce Pitzer was indeed left handed.
  • Why was the widow Pitzer refused a copy of her husband’s autopsy for 25 years after his death?
  • Why did “Several of the Captains and one of the Admirals” when they learned of Livingstone’s book High Treason 2 the widow Pitzer related to me on 31 Jan 96) tell her to “Stay out of it?”
  • Why did the Widow Pitzer seriously wonder, as she suggested to me on 5 Jan 95, “if more were said about this [her husband’s death] if [her] compensation might be stopped?”
  • Last, but not the least question to this date: Why has there not been a reinvestigation into the death of William Bruce Pitzer when so much evidence relevant to and supporting an assassination has been made public by this author and others, including a courageous, now retired, career Navy man, Dennis D. David. Dennis told me during a visit to Ithaca, New York, where I lived at the time (and he has gone public with what he recalled) that he had “personally seen the film, pictures and slides” of the JFK autopsy with “Bill” Pitzer in “Bill’s” office in the Audio Visual Department of the Navy’s Medical School at Bethesda, Maryland in 1963.

For all the details you’ll have to wait and read the book once it is published. Ken Heiner and I plan to turn this story of evil, subterfuge, cover-up and intrigue into an international best seller, believing it may be the only method wherein appropriate authorities will be forced by the people of this misguided nation to act judiciously and with the courage needed to get the job done.

Next week…

Part Five: Green Berets — The Nitty & Gritty






Part Five

Written by


The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC ‘Dangerous’ Dan Marvin

A  R  C  H  I  V  E  S

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Five: Green Berets — The Nitty & Gritty

September 9, 2002

There is little doubt in the minds of most Americans, even those who know only what they have gleaned from the papers or seen on TV telling of the training or exploits of the US Army's Special Forces, the men who wear the Green Beret, that they are the most highly trained unconventional warriors available.

Special Forces teams are commonly asked to do what convention would consider impossible, even insane. Missions might include forays into perilous situations never before explored; much less taken on full force, knowing these uniquely trained, fearless and highly motivated fighters would somehow get the job done. They would emerge victorious even when outnumbered, outgunned and on their own, with little or no outside combat support.

"Nitty Gritty" as defined in Webster's New World Dictionary of the English Language © 1974, means "the actual, basic facts, elements, issues, etc."

In this part, I will discuss some of what falls within that definition. The reader should understand that what is basic to a Special Forces officer, Warrant Officer or Noncommissioned officer would boggle the mind of a conventional military man and rightfully so. The man you see wearing the Green Beret is already a three time volunteer, first to join the US Army, second to earn the parachute badge and third to participate in a training program that rejects more than it graduates before he can be assigned to a Special Forces unit as a fully qualified Green Beret. Most will then volunteer many times during their careers in this elite organization of "can-do" warriors so as to be a part of an operation that is inherently dangerous as is especially true in an independent operation. My book Expendable Elite is about such a mission, revealing the fact that the greatest threat to their very existence may come from those who sent them, should they be declared necessarily expendable.

When a nation has available to it Special Operations Force volunteers eminently qualified to move quickly to any trouble spot in the world and engage in unconventional warfare (whether it be direct involvement in active combat and its many collateral missions of civic action, psychological warfare and possibly military government operations, deployed as a counter-terrorist unit or dispatched on special missions involving the training of indigenous forces) that nation will be called on to help those less fortunate countries who find themselves in a highly explosive and Inextricable immediate defensive need or a long term Incipient Insurgency situation.

You will be introduced to certain aspects of Special Forces training and involvement later in this series. In Part 6 — Blow the ASWAN High Dam I will explore special demolitions and discuss the contingency mission on the books in 1964 that called for the insertion of my all-volunteer team of eight Green Berets carrying a man portable atomic demolition device we would employ to destroy critical power transmission facilities at the ASWAN High Dam then under construction in Egypt. Should you be skeptical that such a device exists, consult Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Publication 1 dated 1 September 1964 which contains the unclassified definition of the SADM (Special Atomic Demolition Munition) devices. At that time I was told they were stored at Seneca Army Depot in upstate New York.

Special testing of unconventional warfare items at Natick Laboratories near Boston, Massachusetts, coupled with what I thought to be some interesting dialogue between a Mafia Don, myself and an SF Master Sergeant, during which an unusual job was offered, are discussed in Part 7 — An Offer from the Don. My book Expendable Elite will give you an appreciation for and whet your appetite for greater exposure to the extremely important role that a team of Green Berets plays in a counterinsurgency situation that has to do with the vital nature of civic action.

Part 9 — Civic Action: The Building of Loyalty will acquaint you with the who, what, when, where, why and how of that area of consuming interest and you will understand why 60% of the efforts of my SF team went into the Civic Action program with the goal of "Winning the Hearts and Minds of the People" being a primary activity.

You will get a glimpse of what takes place in the war of words and deeds in Part 10,Psychological Warfare Operations and be exposed to the extremely wide-ranging and technically demanding activities involved in a Special Forces' medic's duty performance in Part 13, The Dog Lab at Fort Bragg. It will also make you proud of what the Green Beret Medics have accomplished and what they went through physically, mentally and emotionally to earn their MOS.

One serious but little reported aspect of command and control involved in the employment of Special Forces, particularly those teams dispatched as an "independent" operation, is the lack of continuing jurisdiction and the adverse effect the abuse of power can have on mission, men and people they were sent to help and our nation's credibility. In my book Expendable EliteYou will learn of a few instances that will not only leave an indelible mark in your psyche, but hopefully will inspire you to help in any way you can to let our government know that we must act honorably and establish those controls, namely the checks and balances needed to assure that is the case.

To me the lack of spiritual direction and adherence to the Christian principles this nation was founded on is our real Achilles Heel. If we do not pull ourselves together as a nation and again inculcate Christian values in the home, the schools, the workplace, courts and in government, we will someday live under Communist rule.

When I first joined the Army as a raw recruit, along with my first military clothing, boots, towels and dog tags I was issued a pocket-sized New Testament with an olive drab cover at Fort Devens, Massachusetts in June 1952. Our American Army was a God-fearing Army in those days and we soon learned from the "old-timers" that if God had not been for us and against Emperor Hirohito and Adolf Hitler we would have lost the war, just knowing the odds against us, as worldly numbers reflected at the time. I was sure happy to be a part of that God fearing Army and knew in my heart that we could defeat any adversary who went against our nation and our God.

I am pleased to share with the readers what was printed on the back cover of my Army-issueSpecial Forces Handbook, the one I carried with me to South Vietnam in December 1965. Published by the Commandant of the Special Warfare School on 1 January 1965, it stated boldly on the cover page:
"The material contained herein reflects doctrine as currently taught at the Special Warfare School and is derived from material intended for school use, prepared for resident instruction at the Special Warfare School."
That doctrinal handbook included this prayer:


Almighty GOD, who art the Author of Liberty and the Champion of the oppressed, hear our prayer:
We, the men of Special Forces, acknowledge our dependence upon Thee in the preservation of human freedom.
Go with us as we seek to defend the defenseless and to free the enslaved.
May we ever remember that our nation, whose motto is "In God we Trust", expects that we shall acquit ourselves with honor, that we may never bring shame upon our faith, our families, or our fellow men.
Grant us wisdom from Thy mind, courage from Thine heart, strength from Thine arm, and protection from Thine Hand. It is for Thee that we do battle, and to Thee belongs this victor's crown.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and glory forever, AMEN.

I was honored to command Special Forces Detachment A-424 from the end of December 1965 through the first of August 1966. Team members who served with me in An Phu during that period of time exemplified the very finest in Special Forces, each one embodying the principles of that Special Forces Prayer in the conduct of their day-to-day functions, whether it be combat, civic action, psychological warfare or helping to build stronger ties between the Hoa Hao people and the Central Government in Saigon. I can say, without compunction that we who were Special Forces Team A-424 never misused or wrought harm to the people who trusted us to be their friends and fellow defenders of freedom. We were there to assist them in maintaining what was important to them as a people and we never abused the power that was ours to use for good or bad, staying the straight and narrow course of a just direction in all that we did. Living the words of that prayer and using them as our mental road map to success made it possible for us to be continually victorious in the many battles we fought against a vastly superior enemy force in both numbers and weapons. Perhaps even more spectacular as a vivid frame of reference is what our sticking by what we know to be right allowed us to remain loyal and steadfast to our Hoa Hao fighters and families and to survive the wrath of the CIA when (as told in Expendable Elite), they dispatched an ARVN Regiment to attack our camp in June 1966, wanting to destroy us in retribution for what I did to unilaterally abort their plan to assassinate the Crown Prince of Cambodia.

The Propensity to Abuse Power

Forthcoming articles in The Unconventional Warrior Series and books in progress will inform and alert the reader from what I personally experienced or was made acutely aware of by sources I considered honorable and credible, the danger that is inherent within any military or civilian organization or political entity when the individual in command possesses independent and unbridled authority.

Understanding the need for higher level scrutiny in any such instance, I wrote President George Bush on 25 September 2001, just two weeks following the Trade Center disaster, to offer him insight based on my experiences. In that letter I stated my case strongly, telling President Bush, "Why I write you is that, having served as a Special Forces officer in Vietnam, Thailand, CONUS and as part of worldwide contingency plans, I have experienced some of what we would otherwise call terrorist tactics under the Flag of the U.S.A. I believe that we as a nation, even as we condemn the terrorists and move forward with all available assets, particularly the Special Forces, to find and punish the enemy we must take immediate and aggressive action internally to cease and desist from similar type activities we have in the past and may otherwise -in the future engage in that are outside the scope of lawful execution of orders inherent in a declared war. We must also establish those absolute controls needed to insure that our nation's response to terrorist attacks or other acts of war against this nation is legitimate and measured to preclude the abuse of the power that too often is fostered in a climate of conflict among those in positions of power who control the many weapons of mass destruction."' I went on to delineate specific examples of actual or attempted abuses of power.

Though the "meat" of what I had written to him and what I had referred him to had been previously used as part of what I had submitted to his father, then President George H.W. Bush, to convince him of the need to demand an investigation that would (and did successfully) clear former ARVN Lieutenant General Quang Van Dang of allegations and heinous innuendoes that had been perpetrated by the CIA against Dang in retribution of my unilateral aborting of the Sihanouk assassination plot, the current President Bush did not respond specifically to this author.

There is much more to bring to your attention but it will have to wait for the moment. Keep watching!

Next Week

Part Six: Blow the Aswan High Dam




Part Six

Written by
The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)

A  R  C  H  I  V  E  S

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Six: Blow the ASWAN High Dam

September 16, 2002


Some of the most interesting and exciting subjects taught us in the Special Warfare training mentioned in Part Three of this Unconventional Warfare series were what I would call "fascinating" special demolition techniques. The "ear muff" charge was one we would be taught by way of a dramatic demonstration that left no doubt in our winds of its combat effectiveness. Instructors began by diametrically opposing two identical charges of plastic explosives on a round bridge support column, arming each with an identical detonator and attaching equal length lead wires to the detonating device. When the device was triggered both charges exploded simultaneously, sending the force of the explosion into the center of the column from opposing directions. When those forces collided in the middle of the column, as they so readily demonstrated, the column itself seemed to explode outwardly from its own center with sufficient force to destroy it. The earmuff charge would be used on wood and concrete columns or trusses, etc.

The dust-initiator charge was an exciting, even awesome special demolition technique designed for specific targets, such as was the case in the design and target application for most special demolition techniques. We were trained using a railroad boxcar as the vehicle for demonstrating the unbelievable as the railroad boxcar became a bomb, a very big bomb! The use of incendiary impregnated oat, wheat or rye grain, sawdust or similar absorbing type material, and a small but powerful explosive device whose primary purpose was to fill the air within the confined space (in this instance a boxcar). It could be an office, warehouse, or house, etc. and a separate charge would be triggered to ignite the incendiary laden material to cause a considerable amount of death and destruction if used in the right place at the right time. We were all convinced of that fact as students when that boxcar located a few hundred yards to our front was detonated and blown &part as if it were a cracker box.

Other special demolition techniques we were acquainted with included homemade napalm, pipe hand grenades, nail grenades, wine bottle cone charges, chemical fire bottles, acid-delay incendiary devices, chemical fire bottles, ribbon explosive charges and sabotage using thermite grenades.

Terrorism techniques taught at the school, including a wide variety of intimidation methods, such as the use of poisonous snakes to elicit fear, will be discussed In Part 10 of this series:Psychological Warfare Operations.

Much earlier in life, when I was 16 and worked for Daniel T. Walker, a farmer near New Lennox, Illinois, where I was first introduced to the peaceful use of explosives. Walker tilled 2500 acres, fed 500 head of white-faced Hereford cattle and 400 head of black and white Poland China hogs that he took to market at the Chicago stockyards.

It was he who taught his son Roe and me to use dynamite to remove old and newly cut stumps as a part of the clearing operation to remove hedgerows, making one bigger field out of two smaller ones for more efficient grain production. We used a standard plunger type detonating device and electric detonators. I was impressed with the lifting power of a stick of dynamite that had been dug in under a stump and tamped with wetted soil. The dynamite exploded and lifted the entire stump out of the ground sufficiently to expose all the roots. We'd cut the roots about a foot below the surface of the ground so they would not interfere with cultivation of crops, remove the stump and root stubs and fill in the depression with dirt from the surrounding area.

Once on the job as S-4 for the 6th Special Forces Group, my major task was making certain our far-flung operational teams were adequately supplied with items essential to the effective conduct of the team mission and the survival of the team members. Scattered around the world as Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) they would be re-supplied by normal and unusual means. Airdrop, International Mail, special courier or using another agency of our government were the channels used should the MTT be in country disguised as a functioning civilian group.

In the summer of 1964 I volunteered to command an eight-man team of volunteers that would take a man-portable atomic device into an objective area by parachute to destroy targets we would be told to neutralize. There were a total of four teams trained to carry and activate the SADM (Special Atomic Demolition Munition) device. As team leader I would carry the 95 lb device and my XO would carry the 35 lb trigger mechanism. Once on the ground in the target area we would first scout out a location within 15 minutes walking distance of the target site and quietly dig or prepare a pre-existing covered location such as a cave for our protection from the explosion and fallout. We would, after scouting the area during daylight hours, move with the device once darkness was again our protector to the detonation location, lock the two parts together, arm the device and return quickly to our own survival site.

The man who brought a device from the Seneca Army Depot in NY State in an unmarked 3/4 ton truck to train us in its operation (short of arming it of course!) told us this first model used the timing device from a commercial washing machine. How true I don't know, but I do know that the maximum time we could set for the blast delay was 15 minutes and that made it absolutely necessary to put together a team of truly optimistic, really daring volunteers. There seemed to be no problem within the ranks of the Special Forces.

If there had been an activation of the contingency mission we would secure the Special Atomic Demolition (SADM) devices in their special canvas containers, similar to the parachutist's adjustable equipment (PAE) bag, along with other PAE bags loaded with sharp entrenching tools, survival rations, skyhook harnesses and special radio equipment that would act as air-to-ground communications and homing signal devices for our after-mission pick up by C-130 aircraft equipped with a "skyhook" system.

We would use the most effective way to infiltrate the site with the device attempting to avoid detection. To locate, key in on, and exit at the right time and place to assure that we could, with what we knew about the weather conditions, pinpoint our landing we would use the high altitude high opening (HAHO) method. Going in at 30,000 feet over the ASWAN High Dam in the middle of, most importantly, a moonless night, leaving the aircraft up wind the proper distance from the desired landing site nearby the dam so as to compensate for winds at various altitudes, of the dam up to five miles. Once outside with the extra heavy clothing to keep us from freezing and the oxygen equipment to keep us alive until we got below 20,000 feet, we could glide for the entire distance to the landing point with little fear of being detected.

If there was even a trace of a moon we'd have to opt for the High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) method, leaving the aircraft at 30,000 feet but not opening our parachutes until we were almost on the ground. We would literally "fly" toward the target, using our extended arms to steer the course. Legs would be of little use as they were tied together with PAE bag straps. We'd be dropping fast by the time we got to 1000 feet above the ground where it was essential to "pop" our canopies and hone in on the area we'd predetermined to be sufficient distance from perimeter security lighting to be relatively safe from immediate detection, but yet nearby the upper entrance to the dam site where our target was located.

The intelligence we needed to provide us accurate target site information was derived from "'company" sources, including a Mafia-owned, CIA employed construction company out of Massachusetts in Egypt at the time on an "arranged" contract to help the Russians build the dam using mostly Egyptian labor. Strange bedfellows, I thought at the time, but perhaps necessary to got the job done. If the mob men got it right we'd be honing in on a location about four hundred yards from the fence that surrounded the hydroelectric station with its six huge water tunnels and we would have in hand the blueprints needed to place the device for maximum destructive results.

At the time I thought nothing about the potential loss of lives and widespread contamination downstream where millions of Egyptians lived.

Needless to say, the contingency mission remained just that and the geographies of politics in that region changed sufficiently to remove the ASWAN High Dam from danger of Special Forces actions as was envisioned when I commanded that small team of death-defying volunteers.

I did not, however, forget the SADM devices and how easily two men could carry, place and detonate a miniature atomic device. When the World Trade Towers, Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania were attacked by terrorist-driven aircraft, I thought back over my years in the Special Forces and what we'd learned about terrorist-type activities and came to realize that the potential existed for our stockpile of SADMs to fall into the hands of terrorists and be used against us or our allies if they were not adequately protected.

After providing the New York State Police information on the SADM and some "how to" on suspension bridge destruction, thinking it a good idea to advise Governor Ridge on this matter, I wrote him as follows:

8 October 2001

TO: Governor Tom Ridge, Homeland Security VIA FAX

C/o THE WHITE HOUSE Please forward to Governor Ridge's Office

Dear Sir,

The following was sent to the New York State Police Syracuse Office on 15 October 2001 and I thought I should send the information to your office for application on a nationwide basis. I failed in my attempt to get your FAX number thus I send it through the White House fax facility.

I was involved in a considerable amount of training at the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg in 1964 and have been involved in a few assignments that had to do with the type of actions a terrorist may consider In this time of terror attacks on our own soil.

I enclose my bio just for some background information and a copy of page 304 of JCS Pub 1 dated September 1974 as it contains the definition of the SADM (Special Atomic Demolition Munition).

The first item of concern is the SADM as it is a powerful man-portable atomic device that could be used to destroy or disable power stations, particularly those that are a part of a hydroelectric power generating capability which would, if blown - not only destroy a power source, but contaminate the water that was the source of power, carrying potential deadly and/or injury/sickness laden water (from radiation) down-river, which would then affect tens of thousands of people. When I was in the 6th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg in 1964 I volunteered to head one of three eight-man teams that had contingency missions with the SADM. My primary mission at the time was the power distribution facility of the ASWAN High Dam in Egypt. The dam was under construction by the Soviet Union at the time with the assistance of a US construction company out of Boston, Mass. At that time the SADM devices were stored at Seneca Army Depot (now closed, as you know). The bomb itself weighed about 95 lbs and the trigger device about 35 lbs. If there are any of those devices still in our inventory, the storage areas should be (and I feel certain already are) under close surveillance and high security.

Second; I believe that suspension bridges, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, are particularly vulnerable to attack and would be the kind of target that would have a great impact on not only the thousands of people who may be on it at the time, but disrupt a great deal of traffic capability. I recall being told in a special demolition course that it would be best to blow only one end of one suspension group of cables immediately adjacent to the concrete abutments. When severed, the cable would allow the bridge to twist and turn as it fell, causing real havoc.

If you would like any other thoughts that come in mind from my previous training or experience, just let me know by FAX and give me your fax number.

Signed, Daniel Marvin

By the end of the week, having heard nothing from his office, I wrote a second letter to follow-up:

2 November 2001

TS: TR01 1102

TO: Governor Tom Ridge, Homeland Security VIA FAX
C/o THE WHITE HOUSE Please forward to Governor
Ridge's Office
Dear Governor Ridge,

Reference is made to my fax dated 28 October 2001 that I sent to you via The White House Fax 0 as shown above.

Inasmuch as this fax concerned extremely dangerous subjects of interest during this terrorist attack sensitive time, I would like to know if you received it. And, I would like to know the proper fax number, telephone number and address for your office should I think of something else that may be of interest to Homeland Security

My 28 Oct 01 fax referred to my 15 October 2001 fax to the New York State Police, telling of my being involved in a considerable amount of training at the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg in 1964 and my being involved in a few assignments that-had to do with the type of actions a terrorist may consider in this time of terror attacks on our own soil. I went on to discuss the need to locate and safeguard all stocks of man-portable Special Atomic Demolition Munition and to indicate the potential danger to Suspension Bridges to attack by terrorists.

I know your office is most active and I do not expect a formal response should you feel that merely penning the answers to my questions hereon and returning same by fax is sufficient for your office management criteria.

Most Sincerely,
signed Daniel Marvin

I did receive an excellent response from the Now York State Police, who were themselves waiting instructions from Governor Ridge's office. But, other than the standard "boiler plate" reply on an official postcard (postmarked 24 Jan 02) mailed some three months after my Inquiry and more than two and a half months after my follow-up letter) thanking me for my "suggestions" and then stating unequivocally that "An appropriate member of our staff will respond directly to you."

Almost eight months have passed and I have heard nothing from that "appropriate member."

I now ask the readers to judge for themselves if there is any possible reason for their lack of response and even more, their ignoring a potential danger of such magnitude as I posed to them. They have made no attempt to contact this former Green Beret combat veteran with experience in overt and covert, even independent unconventional warfare and whose credentials are immediately available to them. They would know, on searching of my military records, that I have been a credit to this nation in time of peace, contingency planning and actual war and have the experience necessary to be of value in any study on potential terrorist activity. Perhaps you should write Governor Ridge and ask him yourself? Ask him why something of such potential significance to national security was ignored.

Next week:
Part 7: An Offer from the Don.


Part Seven

Written by
The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)

A  R  C  H  I  V  E  S

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Seven: An Offer From the Don

September 23, 2002

In the Fall of 1964 Master Sergeant Joseph Hill and I were selected by General Yarborough’s Special Warfare Center headquarters to complete the testing of some new tubular-frame rucksack and armor insole jungle boots. Actual laboratory work would be accomplished by engineers at Natick Laboratories, just west of Boston not too distant from Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Joe (the Master Sergeant) and I would secure the rucksacks, filled with 55-70 lbs of rations, supplies and clothing, to our parachute harness, board an Army single-engine Otter aircraft and jump out at 1200 feet above a drop zone located at nearby Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The parachute operations were essential as tests for strength and resistance to impact when hitting the ground dangling from a 20 -25 foot bungi cord attached to our parachute harnesses at a speed of 20 to 25 feet per second under various wind conditions. Once the laboratory and parachute testing was completed we would take the equipment back to Fort Bragg, for a forced-march test to determine the affect a heavy-laden rucksack would have on the unconventional warriors while wearing the new jungle boots. To assure that it would be a valid test, each rucksack was loaded with equipment, supplies and field rations weighing a minimum of 75 pounds. We each, regardless of rank , began the 42 mile march with a full canteen, M-16 rifle, two bandoleers of ammunition, bayonet, and first aid kit in addition to the heavy rucksacks. At the end of the march, boots and rucksacks were inspected by Natick lab personnel and all of our feet and backs were examined by the Special Warfare Center surgeon’s staff. On the first evening there at Natick labs in late November, 1964 we ate dinner in uniform at a large and fancy motel close by the laboratory, our observations generating suspicion that it was a hang-out for the local Mafia. In fact there we met the son of a Boston “family” Don. As Frank Sinatra crooned on stage near our table, a man who had been secretly furnishing drinks to our table, once confronted by me as to why he was doing that, introduced himself, saying that he simply observed our comaraderie. This man had never before seen an officer and a sergeant treat each other as equals. He then accepted the fact that we were a different breed of soldiers and invited us to join him. One thing led to another, and believing it was common knowledge in Mafia CIA circles that Green Berets were tapped by the “company” to terminate selected “targets” in foreign countries and that Mafia resources were used to take care of the same needs inside the US, he invited us to his home.

We presumably passed muster on the third successive visit to the son’s home on 6 January 1965 and were invited to meet his father the Don at his home the next evening.

After a generous steak with all the trimmings, the Don passed cigars all around and told us of their need for a good hit team to eliminate competition. He clarified that this meant we’d be dealing with people trying to “invade” his territory, that we would not be asked to snuff out cops or so-called “innocent” civilians. Would we be interested? Shown a matched pair of silenced pistols, I know I fantasized for a moment or two what that kind of life might be, but thought better when the reality of my wife and three daughters came back into focus. I thought I best move quickly to decline his offer on the spot rather than push our luck in this dangerous ruse of our own making. But first, I used the opportunity to pose a question that had been in my mind for some months: had the Don been approached by the CIA prior to the Kennedy killing? Pausing to weigh his answer, he said that somebody in the company had asked if he wanted a part in the hit. He said he’d refused to participate, telling us he’d told the caller that he “had no problems with the Kennedys in Massachusetts.” I told him we’d have to pass on the offer and the realization came to each of us sitting there, the Don, his son, Joe and me, that we had learned a lot about each other’s “way of life.” Fortunately for Joe and me it appeared that the Don and his son respected us or perhaps feared what we could do to them as much as we feared the possible consequences of their expected anger. The “reach” of the family was not to be underestimated here in the United States. With the Don’s forthright manner and attitude toward we whom he thought to be much like him, only in uniform, recognizing the need for silence in these matters, allowed that we all four swear by a blood-drawn oath never to disclose each others identities. We had a somber ride back to the motel that night. You could have cut the silence with a knife and we were, at that moment, glad it was behind us and that we were yet breathing.

Next Week…
Part Eight: First to Take The War into Cambodia

Part Eight

Written by
The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)

A  R  C  H  I  V  E  S

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Eight:

First to Take the War Into Cambodia

September 30, 2002

When I left the United States aboard a plush Southern Air Transport jet aircraft with 63 others who wore the Green Beret of the US Army Special Forces it was three days before Christmas in 1965. Sure, we were riding high and handsome at 10,000 feet in one of those company owned CIA aircraft complete with pretty stewardesses, good food and John Wayne movies, but none of us knew for certain what was in store for us once we were on the ground.

That didn't bother us a bit — we had all volunteered to serve in Vietnam. We were proud to be a part of the 5th Special Forces Group with its 1,592 unconventional warriors who fought alongside some 30,000 indigenous personnel in what became a vain attempt to rid their country of the Communist insurgents. It wasnt a lack of courage on the part of the brave South Vietnamese people or their fighting regulars, paramilitary or civilian irregulars, but rather the cowardly withholding of US Presidential and Congressional backing, the departure of our fighting forces and the subsequent denial of promised logistical and financial support of their defensive effort that resulted in the North Vietnamese forces victory. When forced by our flagrant national act of betrayal to fight alone against a numerically superior military machine supported by Communist China, the South Vietnamese lost the war, lost their nation and became virtual prisoners of a Communist system.

It is a fact that few, if any of us, knew and almost a certainty that we would have doubted the validity of what we were told, had anyone tried to tell us (before we left the States) that our government had permitted, even if only by acquiescence, the enemies their safe-havens inside Cambodia. These sanctuaries ran the length of the common border of South Vietnam and Cambodia.

No mention was made of that fact at 5th Group Headquarters in Nha Trang when we were briefed by Colonel William McKean and his staff prior to being given our actual duty assignments. I will attempt, in capsule form, to convince the reader of the heinous, even fatal, nature of that action taken by our government which in reality aided and abetted the enemy of the South Vietnamese and placed their lives and the lives of Americans and other allies alike at great risk. Our White House, by providing the enemy safe-havens and the use of the Mekong River as one of their main re-supply routes for war goods, helped the Communists secure their eventual victory over the South Vietnamese.

The book EXPENDABLE ELITE — One Soldier's Journey Into Covert Warfare is a MUST READ if you are to fully comprehend the actual affect of those sanctuaries on the conduct of the war and to appreciate the courage of the Hoa Hao people; in particular ARVN Major Phoi Van Le (now a US citizen). Major Le single-handedly, as military advisor to the Hoa Hao Central Council, met with the South Vietnamese Defense Minister in Saigon and won the right for the irregular forces within his area to enter Cambodian territory when in hot pursuit of enemy forces with the only contingency being US command of those forces as independent covert forces. As commander of US Army Special Forces Detachment A-424, I would take charge of those forces and with Major Le form a company group of Hoa Hao irregular fighters who would effectively defend An Phu and, for the first time, take the war to the enemy inside what had been their sanctuaries. On my arrival at Camp Dan Nam in An Phu District, South Vietnam on 27 December 1965, I brought with me the unfettered TOP SECRET authorization to ignore any past restrictions that forbade taking the war into so-called neutral Cambodia.

With Major Le and I leading the Hoa Hao Irregular Forces we soon regained all territory occupied by the enemy and pushed the Viet Congs Southward regiment deep inside Cambodia. Within a few days of my assuming command, we would deny the Viet Cong and their NVA allies that close-proximity safe-haven they had enjoyed with the blessings of our White House. It may well have been the only 30 kilometers of border area closed to the enemy forces, but I acknowledge that another Special Forces Team may have had a similar TOP SECRET mission and I pray that other Special Forces muster the will and the courage to inform the American public of the truth they personally witnessed to corroborate the evil nature of that Presidential dictum that favored the enemy and resulted in countless deaths and injuries in friendly military and civilian persons alike.

I am understandably proud to have served with Major Phoi Van Le, a veteran of 18 years of fighting many enemies to protect the 64,000 people of An Phu. With exception of 200 Chams of Malaysian-Polynesian extraction, they were all of the Buddhist Hoa Hao Sect, wanting nothing more than live a quiet, upright and productive life along the Bassac River in the district of An Phu. His courage, integrity and leadership qualities made it possible for our outnumbered and outgunned forces to lob the first high explosive mortar rounds into the VC safe-havens, beginning at five minutes past midnight on the 1st day of January 1966. Within a few weeks we had penetrated the border area on foot in hot pursuit of the enemy and I had the singular privilege of being the first American to set foot on Cambodian soil in a combat action. This fact I can corroborate with witnesses and I would be only too happy to take second place to some other Special Forces officer or NCO willing to come forward and testify to the truth of the enemys sanctuaries.

Again, I suggest you order a copy of my book EXPENDABLE ELITE — One Soldier's Journey Into Covert Warfare if you would like to read about and see actual photos of Major Phoi Van Le and the Hoa Hao Buddhists of An Phu, no doubt the most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of working with, fighting alongside and living a life of victory over self.

Next Week…
Part Nine: Civic Action The Building of Loyalty

Part Nine

Written by
The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)

A  R  C  H  I  V  E  S

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Nine:

Civic Action: The Building of Loyalty

October 7, 2002

Civic Action, as I define it in my book Expendable Elite, is “The use of American and local military, paramilitary or irregular forces on projects useful to the local population in such fields as education, training, public works, agriculture, transportation, communications, health, sanitation and others contributing to economic and social development, which also serve to improve the standing of the government with the population.”

The catchy phrase “Winning the Hearts and Minds of the People” was used very effectively during Special Forces instruction on Smoke Bomb Hill at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the spring of 1964 to emphasize one of the primary roles of the US Army Special Forces in a counter-insurgency warfare situation such as what we call the Vietnam conflict. It was a war and those of us who were on the ground knew it was a war. That role could include civic action, psychological warfare and military government operations such as was the case with SF Team A-424 which I commanded in the district of An Phu, South Vietnam from 27 December 1965 through 2 August 1966.
Counter-insurgency, as I define it: military, paramilitary, psychological warfare, political, economical and civic actions taken by a government to defeat a subversive insurgency. Conversely, insurgency is a condition resulting from insurrection against a constituted government that falls short of civil war. Insurgencies depend on the insurgents’ ability to enlist the local population, either by fear and intimidation or by convincing that same people their government is evil and self-serving, thereby increasing their numbers, and in doing so, weakening the government’s capabilities.

I like what Hans Halberstadt, in his book Green Berets – Unconventional Warriors: In Action With America’s Elite Fighting Men, (Berkley Books, NY) © 1989, said of the Army’s Special Forces organization: “It is, within the Army, a group of men at the tactical level who are taught to look at conflict in a radically different manner, in subtle political and social ways, at the reasons behind conflict, rather than the popular and sensational reasons found on television or in newspapers.”

You will learn, when you read Expendable Elite, that our team, working with our counterparts in the Vietnamese Special Forces in An Phu, devoted 60% of our day-to-day effort to the business of civic action, psychological warfare and military government operations. Our efforts convinced the 64,000 people of An Phu that we cared about them. We worked to show the central government in Saigon that the Hoa Hao people posed no threat to them, which was what the government once feared. We would, within 30 days of our taking on an “independent warfare operation” role, retake ground that had been occupied by the enemy, provide a high level of security in our area, weed out local insurgents and gain the loyalty of our citizens. They then, without fail, made us aware of any enemy activity, no matter how insignificant, that could adversely affect the people of An Phu.

Colonel Harry L. Corkill, speaking to me when I first reported to be his right hand man in the 82d Airborne Division logistical support center, expressed an “attitude” about dealing with people, telling me what I will never forget: “Marv,” he told me, “loyalty must first go down and then it will bounce back up on its own and you can count on that.”
With that in mind I led my team in serving the people of An Phu in every aspect of our independent operations, keeping their security and welfare uppermost in our daily priorities. Once, having witnessed our loyalty through individual and team actions, the people understood we cared for them and they did all they could to let us experience the reality of their caring for us.

I feel certain that you could ask any American that was in An Phu with me what it was like to go out on a combat patrol with the Hoa Hao irregulars, one of the most likely responses would be to tell you, “the Viet Cong would‘ve had to have shot me in the head because our “strikers” virtually surrounded me to protect me whenever those bullets started flying.” You be the judge: Did we win the hearts and minds of the people?

[Edited by Jeanne Calabretta]

Next Week – Part Ten: Psychological Warfare Operations

Part Ten

Written by
The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)

A  R  C  H  I  V  E  S

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part Ten:

Psychological Warfare Operations

October 14, 2002

We were taught the fundamentals of psychological warfare operations by military instructors on Smoke Bomb Hill at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the spring of 1964 using their own personal experience and Department of the Army Field Manual 31-21 Guerrilla Warfare and Special Forces Operations, dated 29 September 1961 as relevant references.

“Unconventional warfare,” we read in chapter 9 of FM 31-21, “involves ideological, religious, political and social factors which promote intense, emotional partisanship. Resistance organizations tend to attract personnel who accept violent change as a means of social action; they are motivated by hope for change. But, the fluid nature of resistance activity, the alternate periods of isolation and combat, the surreptitious life make resistance personnel particularly susceptible to propaganda affects.

“In peace or war special forces units, by their very presence in a particular country, have a psychological impact on select military or paramilitary elements and on informed elements of the population. The image created by special forces personnel is moulded by a multitude of factors which bear heavily on the successful outcome of the operation. These factors include tangible evidence of United States interest and support of the people by the presence of special forces personnel, the results of day-to-day, face-to-face meetings and an intelligent understanding of the objectives and problems of the indigenous guerrilla force.”

Department of the Army Field Manual 31-15 Operations Against Irregular Forces dated 31 May 1961 was used to teach us that “Propaganda is planned and employed in the [counter-guerrilla warfare] campaign to achieve the following immediate goals:

  1. Divide, disorganize, and induce defection of irregular force members.
  2. Reduce or eliminate civilian support of guerrilla elements.
  3. Dissuade civilians from participating in covert activities on the side of the irregular force.
  4. Win the active support of noncommitted civilians.
  5. Preserve and strengthen the support of friendly civilians.
  6. Win popular approval of the local presence of friendly military forces.
  7. Obtain national unity or disunity as desired.”

The results of our assimilation of the many hours of classroom instruction and the effective employment of actual psychological warfare techniques in a real situation can be readily ascertained on the ground in the operational area by the level of loyalty and active support by the local population of government forces and policies, whether those forces be irregular, paramilitary or regular forces. In An Phu District of Chau Doc Province, where I commanded an independent operation with irregular forces supported by paramilitary and regular forces in 1966, we realized the total support of the 64,000 indigenous people in our area. We did first show the local people that we were loyal to them and to their government and would put our lives on the line for them before we expected any show of support or loyalty from them.

In my book, Expendable Elite – One Soldier’s Journey into Covert Warfare, I tell in Appendix 9, Psychological Operations Report: 1-31 May 1966, the actual results of on-the-ground application of what we had learned from those experienced instructors at Fort Bragg. To be available to the public in the spring of 2003, Expendable Elite should prove to be an excellent reference for future training of those who would go into a counter-insurgency situation to organize and direct irregular forces against a strong, third power backed insurgent force. Some information to ponder:

In my May 1966 Psychological Operations Report I told of the courageous effort made by the Vietnamese Information Service (VIS) that was above and beyond the call of duty, to the extent of infiltrating enemy-held areas of our district, quietly appealing to the people to move out of danger, assisting in the evacuation of wounded civilians and helped to organize the more than 8,000 refugees fleeing south into more secure areas.

During that month of record fighting in our area more than 8,000 newspapers and 260,000 leaflets were distributed, 1250 posters were placed on bulletin boards and 125 personal messages were delivered to bereaved families by LLDB or CIDG officers. The VIS made a total of 215 loudspeaker appeals, reaching an estimated 20,200 local people. Face-to-face contacts included 141 group meeting reaching approximately 10,900 persons, 27 movies seen by 15,000 irregulars and villagers and 14 personal meetings. In addition 552 villagers were treated by our medical patrol when it was temporarily freed from war casualty duty to maintain our medical support of people in our area. Although overwhelmed by an awesome load and short of personnel, we managed to send out three CA/PO patrols to put together a timetable and requirements list for future projects, wanting to keep ahead of the curve while reassuring the people of An Phu that their security and their well being was our top priority. It was a good thing!

Edited by Jeanne E. Calabretta

Next Week – Part 11: Assassinate a Prince?

Part Eleven

Written by
The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)

A  R  C  H  I  V  E  S

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part 11:

Assassinate a Prince?

October 21, 2002

Everything to do with my first six months as commander of Special Forces Team A-424, situated on the Cambodian Border in the district of An Phu had been an unconventional experience. When I accepted the Top Secret mission that would allow me and my men to take the war into sovereign Cambodian territory for the first time in that war, I naively thought all the others would follow as we proved successful. LTC William Tuttle, the commander of all Special Forces units in the IV Tactical Corps, looked me in the eye and told me that we would be “on our own” no matter what we faced once inside Cambodia. There would be no support from our higher headquarters.

“Not even medical evacuation?” I asked.

Almost nose to nose with me, he answered, “If you accept, you are on your own. Once you walk out that door, it will be as if we never met. Understand?”

I would learn that Major Phoi Van Le, whom Colonel Tuttle described as being “tougher than nails,” would be my counterpart in An Phu as commander of the five CIDG companies and the LLDB team. He was also the military advisor to the Hoa Hao central council and it was Le, I was told by Tuttle, that met with General Quang Van Dang (IV Tactical Zone CG) and somehow used the reputation of the Hoa Haos as fierce and courageous fighters to convince General Dang that he should meet with Premier Ky’s Minister of Defense and obtain approval for the defenders of An Phu to take the war into what had been sanctuaries provided the enemy by our White House. This was in December 1965, some seven months after we had broken diplomatic relations with Prince Sihanouk. I was to learn that President Johnson, against the desires of Premier Ky, had approved the enemy’s use of Cambodian Territory for safe havens. Insane? Yes, and stupid too. It was aiding and abetting the enemy to permit them safe areas where they could attack our forces from at will with no fear of our following in hot pursuit once they got back across the border into Cambodia.

We were on a different plane at An Phu. With our limited resources of men and weapons we nonetheless took the war to Cambodia but were hamstrung to a certain extent due to a total void of back-up support. We could only logically push the enemy back across the border inside Cambodia to a point where they would find themselves out of our mortar range.

In June 1966, the CIA dispatched one of their agents to my camp to ask if I would accept a mission to assassinate Cambodian Crown Prince Norodom Sihanouk. It seems An Phu was the closest camp to that area of Cambodia where the crown prince reigned and our Hoa Hao irregular fighters had a reputation for getting the job done. Knowing he was no friend of ours and that he had allowed his territory to be used by our enemy, I had no qualms about accepting the mission, but with a quid-pro-quo. Though we began immediately to develop an ambush force of volunteers, gather the equipment and weapons needed for a “sterile” mission and collaborate on a plan for infiltration, ambush and escape back to camp, I had told the company man we would not step foot inside Cambodia on that mission until President Johnson told the American people that our country had permitted the safe havens and concurrently announced that they were eliminated and all of the allied forces were given the green light to pursue the enemy anywhere he fled.

When we were within days of sending our volunteers into Cambodia to kill the prince I learned that there would be no White House move to deny the enemy their safe havens. I immediately cancelled the mission and ordered the agent out of my camp, only to be warned by him. “You can’t fight the system, Captain” he hollered back to me as he was escorted to the waiting chopper, “because you know you can’t win.”

Details of this unusual activity and how we survived the act of retribution concocted by the CIA that would have had me, my men and our Hoa Hao fighters attacked by a 1,000 man ARVN regiment are clearly spelled out in my book Expendable Elite – One Soldier’s Journey into Covert Warfare – to be published by Trine Day Press this coming winter.

Next Week – Part Twelve: President’s Fantasy is a Soldier’s Curse.
General Harold K. Johnson proves to be a mindset clone of President Johnson!

Part Twelve

Written by
The Unconventional Warrior
by LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)

A  R  C  H  I  V  E  S

© 2002 Daniel Marvin

Part 12:

President’s Fantasy is a Soldier’s Curse

October 28, 2002

General William C. Westmoreland, in his ©1976 book, A Soldier Reports, (Doubleday & Company New York) tells the reader, “Under a panel of glass on my desk from the time I assumed command in Saigon I kept a quotation from Napoleon Bonaparte: ‘A commander-in-chief cannot take as an excuse for his mistakes in warfare an order given by his sovereign or his minister, when the person giving the order is absent from the field of operations and is imperfectly aware or wholly unaware of the latest state of affairs. It follows that any commander-in-chief who undertakes to carry out a plan which he considers defective is at fault; he must put forward his reasons, insist on the plan being changed, and finally tender his resignation rather than be the instrument of his army’s downfall.’”

In that same book, he writes, “The enemy’s obvious use of Cambodia as a sanctuary and the refusal of Washington authorities to allow me to do anything about it was frustrating.” For me that was General Westmoreland’s personal admission of what I consider cowardly behavior. Not only General Westmoreland, but every general or admiral between him and the White House who refused to stand up to those who would deny our fighting men and those of the allies a fair chance on the battlefield. Why wasn’t there a torrent of resignations when those who led our forces in battle recognized that the President and the Congress were aiding and abetting the enemy?

There is no other way to look at it. When the enemy is given a place to attack from and return to with immunity by the very leaders who send their men to fight and die in battle, those leaders are guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy.

We were fortunate in 1965 in South Vietnam when a real man of courage stepped forward to protect his people, the 64,000 Hoa Haos who called An Phu District their home. He carried a demand to the IV Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Quang Van Dang, that he be allowed to lead his men against the Communist forces, to follow them in hot pursuit into Cambodia and to effectively deny the enemy sanctuary within mortar range of irregular forces. These brave fighters were all of the Hoa Hao Sect of the Buddhist religion. That leader was Major Phoi Van Le, my counterpart when I was sent in to An Phu to command the first top secret irregular force operations against the enemy inside their Cambodian sanctuaries.

President Johnson, perhaps unaware of what Major Le had achieved in the way of “special permission” to actually take the war to the enemy, maintained his tough and unequivocal policy of permitting the enemy safe-havens, a point well proven during an early August, 1966 briefing of Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson by Lieutenant Colonel Brewer, commander of Special Forces Team B-42 in Chau Doc, South Vietnam.

As Colonel Brewer was briefing General Johnson, with all of Brewer’s staff and A team commanders present, General Johnson interrupted and demanded to know what the yellow highlighted areas inside Cambodia represented. “The yellow represents known VC sanctuaries” Brewer responded.

In an angry tone and directing as ridiculous an order as any of us in that room could imagine, being each one of us had faced enemy who attacked our areas from those very same sanctuaries, General Johnson interrupted again, “Remove them from the map, Colonel. The President of the United States has told the American people that Cambodia does not permit its territory to be used by the enemy.”

An uneasy stillness followed. Colonel Brewer was stunned. Looking directly at the General, he said, “The sanctuaries are real, General, and what you see here is based on good intelligence.” He went on to explain that the officers sitting behind him, of whom I was one, could verify the sanctuary existence in those areas.

General Johnson, whom we all knew despised those of us who wore the Green Beret, ignoring the truth, again told Colonel Brewer to remove the sanctuaries from his operations map, concluding, “The President of the United States has told the American People that Cambodia has not allowed its territory to be used by the enemy.” Then, as if to add some sort of verbal “encouragement” (I believe a threat) General Johnson rose from his chair, walked over to Colonel Brewer and whispered in his ear.

Sanctuaries were removed from the map and I was then convinced in my mind that from the White House down to General Westmoreland, there stood a bunch of weak-kneed officers unable to exercise honorable judgment. They were directly responsible in my judgment for the majority of those South Vietnamese, Americans and other allies who gave their lives or were wounded in action and also caused the nation of South Vietnam to vanish from the face of the earth. Shame on each and every one!

More detail regarding this tragedy is to be found in my book Expendable Elite. Preview it (and pre-order it to get an autographed copy) through the links in the left column of this page and watch for it in your bookstore or library this winter.

[Edited by Jeanne Calabretta & staff]

Next Week – Part 13: The Dog Lab at Fort Bragg
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