The Battle of Hue

This caused the Marines and RAVEN to fight an enemy largely outnumber in an urban environment. (O’Neill, 2003) The Battle of Hue was the deadliest battle of Vietnam. Due to Hue City’s religious artifacts and buildings the allied forces were not allowed to use heavy artillery at the beginning of the war. This caused fierce building to building block to block urban combat. Colonel Stanley S.

Hughes was the allied commander of the 1st Marine Regiment. He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He led the most destructive assault against the NAVA that left the city in ruins but finally pushed the North Vietnamese out of the city. (O’Neill, 2003) The marines were not prepared for urban combat. This was the first time they had seen any combat to this scale since World War II. Cool Stanley S. Hughes was aware of this and had to find different ways to incorporate the warranting functions into this battle. The City of Hue was a religious relic; no heavy artillery was aloud within the first days of the battle.

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Due to the lack of accurate intelligence on the North Vietnam Army COOL Hughes had to use session command and supported his subordinate commanders with every asset he could acquire. Colonel Hughes successful leadership and understanding of the operations process allowed him to visualize, describe, direct, lead, and assess the battle. Colonel Stanley S. Hughes successfully used the warranting functions by understanding and visualizing the battle field allowing him to direct and lead his commanders. Cool Hughes was able to visualize that battlefield by understanding close quarter combat.

He had realized that this was the first time many of his marines have seen urban warfare and that no one had been properly trained or this battle. This made for a very difficult first day of combat with high death tolls. It could take days to clear a building and tanks would make it only a few hundred yards before enemy anti-tank round would destroy it. The NAVA was so well dug into fighting positions in the city they had every road and doorway covered. With the restrictions of heavy artillery at the beginning of the battle Colonel Hughes had to find another way through.

Colonel Hughes assigned battalion objectives and then told his subordinate commanders, “You do it anyway you want, and you get any heat from above, I’ll take care of hat”. After this order battalion commanders started creating teams which included, 3. 5- inch rockets, 106 millimeter recoilless rockets mounted on small-mechanized wheeled vehicles, tanks, or gun jeeps. Colonel Hughes men then started making their own roads and doors. Using the mm recoilless rifle Soldiers started making their own roads, blowing holes through walls and opening their own doors through buildings. (BURBLERS, 1 988, p. 8) Soldiers also started using tear gas before entering a room or buildings causing the NAVA to run out it into gunfire. During an after action review Colonel Hughes stated: “The nature of the terrain and the stubborn “hold at all cost” tactics of the enemy forces introduced a new concept freeware to the Marines in Vietnam. It took each of the battalion a period of about 24 hours to adjust to these new tactics and determine the most effective method of attack in order to seized their objectives rapidly and with a minimum off friendly casualties. This regiment “rediscovered ” the capability of the 3. Rocket launcher, realizing the difference in bursting radius and penetrating power when compared with the LAW. The MOM Onto and MEME mounted mm Recoilless Rifle was quickly found to be an effective direct fire weapon against strong buildings housing a determined enemy unit. Artillery was almost employed “danger close” due to the nature of the fighting, and distances from front lines to target were often a hundred yards or less, a similar situation existed with close air support” (BURBLERS, 1988, up. 38-39) Due to Colonel Hughes experience in World War II he was able to visualize the battle field his commanders were fighting on.

This allowed him to understand the battle better and allowed him to describe and direct his sessions which ultimately rewrote urban warfare at the time. Cool Hughes was able to describe his commander’s intent and end state with very simple mission operation briefs. By using mission command CIO Hughes would give simple orders with an objective. In one instance he gave his intent and end state then simply stated for L ETC Chatham to “attack through the city and clean the NAVA out; to dig the enemy out and to call on regiment for any help he thought he needed”.

During another mission order Colonel Hughes told Chatham “to move up to the university building, and with the Perfume River and Lee LOL Street being the battalion’s right flank, attack through the city and clean the North Vietnamese out, all the while with an exposed left flank. After a brief pause, Hughes told Chatham, “If you are looking for anymore you are not going to get it…. Move out! By directing his task force, Colonel Hughes was able to position units for the most combat effectiveness.

Due to marginal weather with 200-500 foot ceilings and one mile visibility no air assets where available at the beginning of the battle. Colonel Hughes could call on four 155-mm. Howitzers, a battery of 105-mm. Twisters in southern Hue, and a pair of 4. 2-inch mortars in the Hue stadium a short distance east of the advisory compound. (Billiard, p. 66) Once the band for heavy artillery was lifted he instructed for his artillery to emplace on a hill outside of the city at Landing Zone El Paso. Due to the large buildings in the city the mm artillery was not very effective.

Instead Colonel Hughes directed and employed his mortars and fired tear gas canisters due to the NAVA not having gas masks at the time. By directing his artillery assets COOL Hughes was able to successfully deploy one of the warranting functions. DRP 5-0 defines leads as “commanders providing purpose, direction, and motivation to subordinate commanders, their staff, and Soldiers”. Due to the lack of intelligence at the first of the battle Colonel Hughes had to come in and solve several command problems immediately His subordinate commanders knew that they were going into battle blind, without proper intelligence.

What Colonel Hughes did do was to assure his commanders that he would support any method they felt necessary to conduct their assault. Colonel Hughes also provided purpose and direction by giving a clear intent and end state. O’Neill, 2003, p. 47) Colonel Hughes was constantly assessing the battle his marines where in. He accomplished this by moving closer to the front lines and listening to his subordinate commanders. He constantly had to assess the combat effectiveness of his battalions and frequently was sending reinforcements to the front line.

One of the decisive points of the battle was when Colonel Hughes had to assess the enemy and decide that the south part of the Hue City was free of NAVA forces. Once he assessed the enemy was forced out he was able to reinforce his battalions with reserves and push the battle into the rather part of the city. One leadership principle that Colonel Hughes could have improved on is understand. Within the first days of the battle Colonel Hughes stayed in the rear and relied on his battalion commanders for information on the battle. Due to the lack of accurate information from higher this caused problems with subordinated.

Although Colonel Hughes supported his commanders with any and every asset he could, he still did not understand the complexity of the battle. At times his subordinate commanders would articulate that a certain mission or task was not possible, but do to Colonel Hughes not understanding the situation fully he still had his commanders execute. At the beginning of the battle this caused many American deaths. On the third day of battle General Lee ordered Colonel Hughes to the MAC Headquarters so he could more directly control the battle. O’Neill, 2003, p. 35) One thing that Colonel Hughes did understand was the economic and social toll the battle had on the civilian population. Once his Soldiers had cleared the hospital he cleaned and reopened the hospital to handle civilian casualties. This was a way for him to start stability operations while the battle was still in progress. By the end of the battle over 5,000 civilians had been killed and even more injured. This was a way for Colonel Hughes to begin helping the social, economical, and infrastructure of Hue City. (O’Neill, 2003, p. 8) On February 29th 1968 Colonel Hughes announced that the NV had been defeated and pushed out of the imperial city of Hue. The NAVA suffered heavy loses with over 51 ODD deaths, with over 3000 deaths estimated outside the city. The allied forces lost 384 RAVEN with 1800 wounded, 142 Maries killed and 857 wounded and 74 Army killed with 507 wounded. The battle of Hue was so violent that over 80 percent of the city was destroyed. Billiard, p. 69) During the Battle of Hue, Colonel Hughes encountered many unique challenges that had to be answer for a decisive win.

Prior to the battle and for the first few days intelligence was inaccurate. This is a valuable asset to a commander and would have assisted in his planning. Colonel Hughes was only able to combat this by leading his troops and assuring them that he would assist the mission and their units in any way they sought fit. Due to the Marines not being prepared for urban combat and being isolated in an urban area Colonel Hughes and his men had to think “outside the box”. This included using weapons in ways that they had not normally practiced and changing the way they maneuvered on the battle field.

Colonel Hughes was able to visualize the battle field and describe and direct his commanders to accomplish the mission. Colonel Hughes also directed his fires and support to best effect the battle. He directed his artillery to strategic locations that would reduce enemy strong points in the city. During the battle of Hue the most significant leadership principle that he applied was lead. As the battle went on other battalions and units where piece milled into the fight. Colonel Hughes ad to use mission command and provide purpose, direction, and motivation to subordinate commanders, their staff, and Soldiers.

At times this was difficult but without Colonel Hughes leadership ability, he would not have been able to successfully use Fires and Movement and Maneuvers to win the Battle of Hue.