559th Transportation Group

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For more information, see: Ho Chi Minh trail.

Named for the date (i.e., May 1959) of the Politburo decision creating it, the 559th Transportation Group was a People's Army of Viet Nam unit responsible for the operation of the Ho Chi Minh trail supplying Communist forces in the South. It was commanded by Dong Sy Nguyen.

Its existence was first learned through communications intelligence.[1]. Other groups were responsible for sea-based supply of the Communist forces in South Vietnam, as well as for supply of the Pathet Lao.

Initial subordinate units

When established, the unit had two subordinate regiments, the 70th and 71st, composed of truck, roadbuilding, and other operational functions. [2] As well as these construction units, its operational subcommands included:

  • 18 engineer battalions
  • 4 antiaircraft battalions with 4 more in general support
  • 45 way stations

The 559th itself reported to the General Directorate Rear Services (GDRS).[3]

After the cease-fire

Keeping the 559 designation, in December 1972, the organization was now at the level of a Military Region,. located in the southern part of North Vietnam. In addition to the engineer, transportation, and communications battalions operating under the control of the Binh Trans (see below), the 559th directly controlled up to four engineer regiments and the equivalent of a transportation battalion.

Five logistical groups reported to it:[4]

  • Group 470: had jurisdiction generally in the triborder area of Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam and southward into the mountain provinces of South Vietnam;
  • Group 471: north of Group 470 and into the A Shau Valley of Vietnam's Thua Thien Province
  • Group 472: Southern Laos
  • Group 473:north of the A Shau and ended just south of Khe Sanh, but also extended into the Muong Nong region of Laos;
  • Group 571: southern part of North Vietnam and the Ban Karai and Mu Gia passes

In addition to headquarters units, each group controlled a number of local Binh Tranhs, which were a surprisingly modern logistics concept, in that they could protect logistical operations. There were 45 Binh Trans in December 1972, totalling 75,000 men

Each Binh Tran was task organized:

  • Binh Tram 35 (Saravane Province of southern Laos)
    • headquarters and staff of about 450 men
    • two infantry companies of about 125 men each
    • two NVA engineer battalions with a total strength of about 500
    • one transportation truck battalion
    • three antiaircraft artillery battalions
    • two communications-liaison battalions.
  • Binh Tram 37(south in Laos in Attopoeu and had a strength of about 3,400 men. Its additional strength was accounted for by four standard transportation battalions and a river transportation battalion.

References

  1. Christopher Goscha (April 2002), The Maritime Nature of the Wars for Vietnam (1945-75)
  2. Hanyok, Robert J. (2002), Chapter 3 - "To Die in the South": SIGINT, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and the Infiltration Problem, [Deleted 1968], Spartans in Darkness: American SIGINT and the Indochina War, 1945-1975, Center for Cryptologic History, National Security Agency
  3. Ronald J. Cima, ed. (December 1987), Vietnam: Organization, Vietnam: A Country Study, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress
  4. Le Gro, William E. (1985), Chapter 4, Consolidating and Rebuilding, Vietnam: Cease Fire to Capitulation, US Army Center of Military History, CMH Pub 90-29