Academic journal article Military Review

SECRET COMMANDOS: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG

Academic journal article Military Review

SECRET COMMANDOS: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG

Article excerpt

SECRET COMMANDOS: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG, John L. Plaster, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2004, 384 pages, $26.00.

The U.S. Army's Studies and Observations Group (SOG) had one of the most interesting missions of the Vietnam War. During covert and classified operations, small reconnaissance teams gathered intelligence and interdicted enemy activity on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Cambodia.

Often-published author John L. Plaster details his personal experiences from basic training to Special Forces training, to being a reconnaissance team member and leader, to SOG missions, to being a Covey Rider, to rotation back to America. Plaster allows the reader to experience what it feels like to fly into a Laos or Cambodia landing zone while praying it is not a trap. He takes us with him to "run recon" for days at a time with other Americans and Yards (Montagnards), Chinese Nungs, or Vietnamese, all while trying to gather critical intelligence on the North Vietnamese Army and not get discovered. The story of the SOG's extraordinary contributions is long overdue.

Plaster's close attention to detail is evident as he describes special operations. One example is Plaster's use of white phosphorus (WP) grenades, which were more effective in thick jungle vegetation than were colored smoke grenades because WP grenades eliminated drift and were easier to spot by forward air controllers directing air strikes near the reconnaissance teams. …

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