Tunnel Rat in Vietnam
In 1965, soon after the first US combat troops had arrived in Vietnam, it was realized that in some areas the Viet Cong had developed vast tunnel complexes in which to hide from the enemy. It was long known that such complexes existed, but it was not realized just how extensive they were in some areas, how important they were to the Viet Cong, and how difficult it was to detect and neutralize them.
Most complexes were not nearly as developed and extensive as the famous tunnels of Cu Chi, but nonetheless they caused difficulties for Free World Forces. Tunnels served as hiding places for soldiers, weapons, ammunition, food, and supplies and negated the purpose of search and destroy missions intended to root out the Viet Cong. Once the Free World Forces had "cleared" the area the Viet Cong emerged from their tunnels and continued their activities.
It did little good to learn how to detect tunnel entrances and air holes and not ferret out the enemy. Someone had to go in and get them. Not only that but the extent of the tunnel complexes needed to be discovered, weapons, munitions, supplies, and documents had to be recovered or destroyed, and the tunnels themselves had to be destroyed or neutralized to prevent their continued use.
At first infantrymen volunteered to enter the tunnels armed with only pistols and flashlights - the "tunnel runners" were born, known to the Australians as "tunnel ferrets."
Starting as an ad hoc force of infantrymen, combat engineers and chemical troops, it was not long before units were "formalized" as "tunnel exploration personnel" and 4-6-man"tunnel exploitation and denial teams" were created. They came to be known simply as "tunnel rats" with the unofficial motto, Non Gratum Anus Rodentum--"Not Worth a Rat's Ass."
This title will be based on the personal accounts of those who served in this unique role, and will describe the specialist training and equipment, not to mention the tactics and combat experiences, of those who fought an underground war against the Viet Cong in Vietnam.
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Review: Tunnel Rat in VietnamUser Review - Mark Simmons - Goodreads
An interesting subject, but this compact study fails to focus on individuals and specific examples of combat. Rather, the first two thirds repeats information already covered in other Ospreys, or ... Read full review
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173rd Airborne Brigade 1st Cavalry Division 2˝lb 25th Infantry Division air vents ammunition arming Army arrives in RVN ARVN bamboo blasting cap booby traps bunker burning camouflage Cavalry Division Museum chemical detachment colored-smoke grenades combat engineer Corps Tactical Zone dangerous detcord detonated discovered Division tunnel rat dragged emplaced enemy Engineer Battalion equipment exploration field telephone firebases firing flashlight fuse helicopter helmet Hi-Standard hidden hide hole Infantry Division Museum Infantry Division tunnel infantrymen inside Laemlein/Armor Plate Press M17 protective mask M2 cap crimper M72 LAW Mity Mite blower North Vietnam ofthe one’s operations perimeter pistol platoon powder pulled pumped punji stakes revolvers rifle company rope rucksack S&W Model 29 satchel charge searched shaft side room soldiers sometimes tape tear gas trapdoors troops tunnel complex tunnel entrance tunnel rat team tunnel system tunnel-exploration typically underground Vietnam Vietnamese village volunteers weapons wear wire worn