Wargaming with the ARVN in Vietnam

Page Title - Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)
Grunt Logo - Grunt in Cover
Organisation and Equipment


INTRODUCTION

Since I have been unable to uncover much information regarding the organisation and equipment of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, most of what appears here is purely conjectural on my part. It has therefore been necessary for me to assume the same organisation and equipment as the US Army based on the fact that the ARVN were supplied and trained by the US. This is not a satisfactory arrangement and I am working to research this better. A number of different organisations or squad variants have been submitted and if you have any further information, or you know where I can find more information then please contact me 

Up until 1967, ARVN troops were armed with a wide variety of older American weapons including; M1 Garands, Thompson SMGs, and M3 'grease-guns'. In 1967 the M16 began to be issued, beginning with Airborne, Marine, Ranger, LLDB and PRU units, As far as I am able to ascertain, at the start of 1968, only the following ARVN units were equipped with the M-16: ARVN Airborne Division, Marine Brigade, 51st Inf. Regt., 21st, 30th, 33rd, 37th and 39th Ranger Battalions. By the end of 1968, most ARVN regular units were armed with contemporary US weapons; M16, M79, M60 and LAWs.

ORGANISATION OF AN ARVN LINE INFANTRY COMPANY

Infantry Company HQ

  • 1 x Captain
  • 1 x 1st Lieutenant (Artillery Forward Observer)
  • 1 x 1st Sergeant
  • 1 x Medic
  • 3 x Radio
  • 1 x Rifleman (Runner)

Infantry Rifle Platoon HQ

  • 1 x 2nd Lieutenant
  • 1 x Platoon Sergeant
  • 2 x Medic
  • 2 x Radio

Infantry Rifle Squad

  • 1 x Sergeant
  • 1 x Corporal
  • 2 x M-79 40mm Grenade Launcher ('Blooper')
  • 6 x Rifleman

Infantry Weapons Squad

  • 1 x Sergeant
  • 2 x Corporal
  • 2 x M-60 GPMG
  • 1 x 90mm Recoilless Rifle
  • 3 x Rifleman

Infantry Weapons Platoon HQ

  • 1 x 2nd Lieutenant
  • 1 x Sergeant
  • 1 x Sergeant (Forward Observer)
  • 1 x Corporal
  • 3 x Radio
  • 1 x Rifleman

Infantry Mortar Squad

  • 1 x Sergeant
  • 1 x Corporal
  • 1 x M-79 40mm Grenade Launcher ('Blooper')
  • 3 x Rifleman
  • 1 x 81mm Mortar
NOTES

It was common practice for the 90mm Recoilless Rifle in the Weapons Squad of the Rifle Platoon to be left at Base camp and replaced by a third M-60 GPMG.


SQUAD VARIATIONS (Submitted by Leondus)
There were many organisational variations of the ARVN squad, due primarily to equipment availability but also to considerations of terrain and the nature of the combat which the unit was predominantly involved in.

1965-1975 Infantry Squad: 9 men (1 x BAR or M14E2, 7 x M1 or M14, 1 x  M3A1)
The BAR or M14E2 was the main SAW for a Squad. M60's were somewhat like gold dust and were only given to good/elite units. ARVN Marine formations right up to 1973 were still using the BAR over the M60!! The Squad above is just a generic formation/guide line.

1968-1970 Infantry Squad: 10 men (1 x M60, 1 x M79, 8 x M16)
The formation above is a guide line for the 1st ARVN Division around Da Nang ( I CORPS). As you can see the firepower is upgraded with an M60 and M79 due to the heavy fighting.

1968-1975 Infantry Squad: 9 men (1 x M79, 1 x M60, 7 x M16)
Same as above but minus one grunt. This guideline is for ARVN units in IV CORPS.

From what I can tell from all the reading over the years, ARVN infantry formations were very, very odd! Not one infantry division appears to be equipped and organised in the same way. On the whole they appear to be pretty much 'ad hoc' organisations, using whatever supplies were available for setting up new units. Even units that used the M16 by 1969 were using the M1 again by 1972!!

Other Squad Formations:

1965-1966 Infantry Squad: 8 men (1 x BAR, 7 x M1)

1966-1969 Infantry Squad: 8 men (1 x M79, 1 x M14E2, 6 x M1)

1970-1975 Infantry Squad: 8 men (1 x M79, 1 x M60, 6 x M16)

1967-1975 Mech. Inf. Squad: 8 men (1 x M60, 1 x M79, 6 x M16) or 9 men (1 x M14E2, 1 x M79, 7 x M16)

1967-1975 Ranger Squad: 9 men (2 x M79, 1 x M60 or M14E2, 6 x M16)

1970-1975 Para Squad: 8 men (1 x M79, 1 x M60, 6 x M16)


HIGHER FORMATIONS

BATTALION

1 x Battalion HQ, 1 x Battalion HQ Company, 4 x Rifle Company (Companies A - D), 1 x Combat Support Company (Company E).

Combat Support Company : 1 x 4.2" (107mm) Mortar Platoon (four squads consisting of 6 men + 1 Mortar, plus a Platoon HQ consisting of 1 officer and 7 men) and 1 x Assault Platoon (12 x portable flame throwers, one officer and 48 men), 1 x Scout Platoon (the Combat element of the Headquarters Company) consisting of 1 officer and 48 men divided into 8 x 6 man squads.

Note : the Combat Support Company was often employed as a fifth rifle company.

BRIGADE

Battalions were organised into Brigades of 2 - 5 Battalions


See Also:

ARVN Uniforms for information regarding the dress of both ARVN combat and police/security forces.

ARVN Armored Forces - the development of the armored forces of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam: from the establishment of a Vietnamese armored force in 1950 to the fall of Saigon

ARVN Order of Battle - detailed Order of Battle for the various ARVN Forces


 

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