Project DELTA was one of three Greek letter special forces reconnaissance projects formed by the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, MACV during the Vietnam War to collect operational intelligence in remote areas of South Vietnam.
Project DELTA was established at Nha Trang in 1964 and consisted of six reconnaissance hunter-killer teams each composed of four United States Special Forces and six to eight Vietnamese special forces with the 91st Ranger Battalion. It was designated Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group.
Note: The following is - in large part - copied from http://www.macvsog.cc/special_projects.htm#SPECIAL%20PROJECTSSpecial Forces, codename, Operation LEAPING LENA, Project DELTA was formed in October, 1964 to conduct the most hazardous and critical missions inside the country of South Vietnam. The organizational structure and make up of the teams was very similar to LEAPING LENA. However, unlike its predecessor, Project DELTA would prove to be one of the most successful Special Operations units in the Vietnam War. In June of 1965, 5th Special Forces Group (A), Detachment B-52 was activated to act as a controller and headquarters element for the newly formed Project DELTA and its clandestine operations.
The mission of Project DELTA was to conduct special reconnaissance missions in corps areas that were designated jointly by the Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (COMUSMACV) and the Vietnamese Joint Central Staff. The missions were conducted under operational control (OPCON) of a division or larger command.
While the operational strength of B-52 varied and fluctuated during its history, typically it was comprised of 11 officers and 82 enlisted men from the U.S. Army Special Forces, a 105 man CIDG Nung Security Company responsible for Compound and TCC security and Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA), 20 officers and 78 enlisted men from the Vietnamese Special Forces, a 123 man CIDG Roadrunner Company and the 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion (RVN) made up of 43 officers and 763 enlisted men. The 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion was the reactionary force for Project DELTA. In most cases elements of the 281st AHC were attached OPCON for aviation support. Additionally, there were U.S. Air Force personnel assigned as Forward Air Controllers. Project DELTA traditionally employed indigenous civilians as maintenance and construction workers. Most of these workers were employed at Nha Trang but would occasionally be utilized in construction of Forward Operational Bases (FOB) and Mission Support Sites (MSS).
Upon receipt of an Operational Order, B-52 would be transported by C-130 to the area of operation to the pre-selected FOB or MSS. The 281st AHC (-) would self deploy to the FOB or MSS during the five day set-up period. Upon becoming operational Project DELTA utilized the following techniques and procedures to complete its mission for the Host unit:
- Conducted long range and covert reconnaissance into denied areas.
- Collected intelligence for tactical or strategic exploitation.
- Planned and directed air strikes on normally inaccessible targets.
- Conducted BDA in enemy controlled areas.
- Utilized Reconnaissance-in-force missions against concealed enemy positions.
- Executed hunter-killer missions at night using helicopter borne personnel with sniper scopes and starlite scopes.
- Recovered allied POW?s
- Captured enemy personnel for intelligence exploitation
- Employed wire tap procedures on enemy communication lines.
- Mined enemy transportation routes.
- Mislead enemy counterintelligence by using deceptive missions, mock ordnance devices, and dummy infiltrations.
- Used harassing gas and smoke to channel enemy personnel into kill zones.
- Conducted photo reconnaissance to include processing, printing, imagery interpretation and production of photo intelligence reports.
- Assisted in psychological operations (PSYOPS).
- Conducted airborne (Helicopter) personnel detector missions (SNIFFER).
Extraction or exfiltration was accomplished in much the same manner as the insertion. After the Team was identified by means of predesignated codes the recovery operation proceeded. Depending on the terrain, weather, extent of wounds and enemy situation, the Team may be extracted with ladders, McGuire Rigs or Electric Hoist. In later years the McGuire Rigs were refined into the STABO Rig. If the LZ was hot and the Team was in contact, the Team was usually extracted with the McGuire or STABO and flown to a secured area to be recovered into the aircraft.
During its history, Project DELTA identified 68 enemy units, captured vast amounts of equipment and supplies and identified many major enemy installations and supply routes. Enemy losses attributed to B-52 during its operations include 338 KIA, 25 WIA and 69 POWs. It was OPCON to the 25th Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 101st Airborne Division, 4th Infantry Division, 3rd Marine Division and the 5th ARVN Division as well as the CG, I CTZ; CG II CTZ; CG, III CTZ; I FFVN; II FFVN; II MAF; III MAF and Company A, 5th Special Forces Group. After conducting 55-60 separate operations, Project DELTA was deactivated in June of 1970. There are 29 former members of Project DELTA listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
- Presidential Unit Citation
- Valorous Unit Award
- Meritorious Unit Commendation
- Navy Unit Commendation
- Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm (x2)
- Vietnamese Civil Action Honor Medal First Class
Presidential Unit Citation
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I have today awarded:
5TH SPECIAL FORCES GROUP (AIRBORNE)
1ST SPECIAL FORCES, UNITED STATES ARMY
The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces and its assigned and attached units distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism in combat operations in wide areas of the Republic of Vietnam from 1 November 1966 through 31 January 1968. During this period, members of the 5th Special Forces Group constantly displayed endurance and exceptional heroism while carrying the fight to the enemy. Operating from remote isolated areas predominantly controlled by the enemy, and deploying normally in 12-man teams, United States Army Special Forces detachments so successfully trained, organized and led their indigenous paramilitary troops that large areas of the Republic of Vietnam were returned to government control. As a direct result, valuable intelligence information was collected and the enemy suffered over 8,000 killed and 2,000 captured during this period. The conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism displayed by the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces and its assigned and attached units are in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on the personnel of the units and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
- ↑ "U.S. Army Special Forces 1961-1971." United States Army Center of Military History. 1973. CMH Pub 90-23.
- ↑ http://www.projectdelta.net/presidential.htm
- Green Berets at War, Shelby Stanton
- Special Forces in Southeast Asia, AAR Series, Steve Sherman
- 281st AHC Unit Histories; Personal Memories of Bob Mitchell, Bandit 24.