"Nung" Division / 16th Light Division
Six light divisions, numbered 1-6, were created in early August 1955. The official document was Defense Ministry Decision 612 of August 8, 1955. Originally formed in North Vietnam as the 6th Division (more commonly known as the "Nung" division), it included the 201st, 156th, and 203rd infantry regiments. Many Nungs originally were in its ranks. Then, by Joint General Staff order dated September 17, 1955, the numbering system for all main force units down to battalion level was changed. The 6th Light Division became the 16th Light Division. Finally, in late 1958, the 16th Light Division was dissolved ("giai tan," in Vietnamese) as part of a major reorganization. The unit was renamed 3rd Field Division after its move to Song Mao, then the 5th Division in 1959.
The Ngai/Nung of Vietnam (Xuong, Giang, Nung An, Nung Coi, Phan Sinh, Nung Chao, Nung lnh, Qui Rin, Nung Din, and Khen Lai) are a marginal Chinese group from northeast Vietnam, whose ethnic identity shifted according to geographic location. Many ethnic Nung did not speak Vietnamese fluently. The Thai Nung (also known as the Highland Nung) immigrated from the Yunnan province of southern China into northern Vietnam. The Thai Nung are a Diac people who speak one of the Central Tai languages. In China, they belong to the Zhuang minority people group; whereas, in Vietnam, they are considered an official nationality. In Chinese, Nung means "the fat ones."
Among the Chinese, the Thai Nung are known as good soldiers; however, they also have a reputation as being "not exactly trustworthy." When the Vietnam conflict began in 1954, several thousand Thai Nung fled as refugees and resettled in southern Vietnam. Another 50,000 immigrated into north central Laos, and a little more than 115,000 remained in China, their original homeland. The Nung ethnic tribe was well-known for its anti-communist activities before and after 1975. Indigenous groups, such as the Hmong, Nung, Montagnard, Kahmer, Hoa Hao, and Cao Dai contributed military forces, together with the United States, during military operations conducted in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict.
The Montagnards were not the only minority group involved in the Civilian Irregular Defense Corps [CIDC], program; other groups were Cambodians, Nung tribesmen from the highlands of North Vietnam, and ethnic Vietnamese from the Cao Dai and Hoa Hao religious sects. In addition to the American Special Forces, there were more than 1,200 South Vietnamese and ethnic Chinese soldiers divided into two CIDG companies and the 81st South Vietnamese Airborne Ranger Battalion. One CIDG company was the Nung Strike Force, a platoon-size, rapid reaction force made up of ethnic Chinese soldiers.
From 1966 to 1967, U.S. field commanders increasingly employed SF-led units in long-range reconnaissance missions or as economy-of-force security elements for regular units. Other CIDG-type forces, called mobile guerrilla forces, raided enemy base areas and employed hit-and-run guerrilla tactics against regular enemy units. The SF also recruited extensively among Nung tribes for the Delta, Sigma, and Omega units, which were SF-led reconnaissance and reaction forces.
CIA ran the Phoenix program, which was designed to eliminate suspected VC/NVA infrastructure in the villages and hamlets. According toLieutenant Colonel W. R. Corson: "The Phoenix effort was nothing more, or less than a bounty program organized and led by a Chinese ethnic Nung brigands who were paid in American dollars for killing people with little or no regard for their guilt or innocence."
Offiically set up in 1965 Mike Force was originally called the ' Mobile Guerilla Force' due to the nature of the actions performed by this group in conjunction with the Nung Tribesmen since early 1964. Headquartered / Located at Nha Trang, Mike Force had the selection of the best of the Indigenous forces available including tribesmen of the Rhade, Raglia, Koho, Nung and Cham with the entire contingent of both the Nung and Rhade rated as 'Superb' in their jungle fighting skills and all airborne qualified. The standards of the other tribesmen allocated/choosen to fight with Mike Force was well above that of the normal Indigenous combatant.
In total, approximately 40% of the indigenous combatants were Special Forces trained and qualified. (totalling over 1,000 men at Nha Trang alone). Unusually, the area of operation of the 5th Mike Force at Nha Trang was 'Vietnam' and not restricted to operations in any particular zone. Used for re-inforcement of indigenous positions the Mobile Strike Force (Reaction Force) was also used for Recon Ambush, Recon and Combat, Rapid Insertion, Jungle Tracking and Neutralization and were capable of operating in areas considered as VC / NVA Strongholds for period of more than 60 days without re-supply or contact if necessary.
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