Army Security Agency My ASA Mission
Among the least known army units serving in Vietnam were the super-secret forces of the Army Security Agency (ASA) Group, Vietnam.
These included the 8th ASA Field Station in Phu Bai (later Da Nang), the 224th ASA Battalion Aviation) at Tan Son Nhut (later Long Than North), "the 303rd ASA Battalion at Long Binh, the 313th ASA Battalion at Nha Trang, the 138th Aviation Company (RR) and the 20 ASA aviation, divisional support, operations and security companies scattered throughout the country.
They were unknown because officially they did not exist and were hidden undercover designations to mask their true identities, with Radio Research Unit (RRU) being the most common designator. Among the several missions of these ASA units was the collection of enemy intelligence through radio direction finding (ARDF). By any measure, ARDF became the single most valuable intelligence resource available to American and Allied forces during the war in Vietnam.
The ARDF mission involved finding two bits of information: where was the enemy radio transmitter and whose transmitter was it. These transmitters belonged to combat, administrative and logistical units of the Viet Cong, and in later years to elements of the Army of North Vietnam. The operators used call-signs and techniques that were associated by the intelligence analysts with particular enemy units or headquarters.
Typically the messages were sent by telegraph key and encrypted. But this fact presented no problem for ARDF since message content was not the only issue. Location and obliteration provided a successful mission. The problem was the length of time a station remained on the air. The Viet Cong were aware of the consequences and the transmissions were extremely short and not long enough to get an accurate fix!' Someone had to decide the accuracy, if the area was clear of friendly fire, and the extent of destruction.
How do you avoid friendly fire with a war going in the jungle of Vietnam. You have a dozen ground troop military forces like the Army, Marines, Koreans, Austrians, and South Vietnamese Army to name a few. Is anybody out there?
As in previous wars our top-secret intelligence information was more important than our lives. There is a chain reaction of events resulting in the catastrophic lost of thousands of lives or the War itself by the North Vietnamese having access to our information and our ability to intercept. If we could have intercepted information about the TET offense in 1968 we would have won that war. 58 thousand deaths, countless wounded, a decade of agony and a few words in the wrong hands can change it all.
Informants are scarce and there information can not always be used to save lives. Sacrifices have to be made and no action to save the lives of a platoon will be taken if it jeopardizes the informants’ identity, mission and countless other lives. Does the end justify the means? Is all fair in love and war? Can you live with that?
On a larger scale there is no guarantee that our perimeter will no be breached and the out post taken over. Although the files transmitters and other equipment were rigged with explosives in case of such an event we ate, slept, and lived on the sacrificial alter of War. A Navy battle ship with one and only one mission was armed, aimed, and assigned to instantaneously obliterate our outpost to prevent compromise. I and all my friends were an expendable source of knowledge.