In 2014, the Heritage Chapter (San Angelo, TX) of the Freedom Through Vigilance Association (FTVA), in association with Angelo State University and ec47.com, approached the history office of what was at that time the USAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance agency in an effort to make public at least some of the historical record as it was written at the time.
The "Top 10" Questions
Since declassification of eight years’ worth of records in any sort of reasonable timeframe seemed an unlikely prospect, it was suggested that a list of ten specific questions be drawn up, for which answers would be provided. Without knowledge of what the squadron histories might contain, the selection of ten events or situations from eight years of operational history was obviously a hit-or-miss proposition. Nonetheless, a “Top 10” list of questions—in no particular order or priority—was drawn up and submitted via our FTVA contact.
Those responses received in the form of extracts from the squadron histories or other contemporary USAFSS documents may be viewed by opening the links below. Received material from other sources (Wikipedia articles and CHECO reports already on hand) has not been reproduced.
(Note: These are 3-5 mb PDF files and may be slow to download.)
#1. What role did ARDF play in predicting, or failing to predict, the Tet offensive of 1968? Were EC-47 assets specifically tasked to support the defense of Khe Sanh (Operation Niagara, etc.?) Did ARDF contribute significantly to the defense of Khe Sanh? Did USAFSS address these sorts of questions and document the findings?
#2. ARDF played a large role in the planning and execution of the “incursion” into Cambodia in the spring and summer of 1970. The other notable allied ground offensive during this timeframe was Operation Lam Son 719; the ill-fated ARVN thrust along highway 9 into Laos in an attempt to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail at Tchepone. More information on the specific role of the EC-47 in both these critical operations is needed.
#3. The EC-47 during the “Easter Offensive” of 1972. Turning back this massive NVA assault is as near a vindication of airpower as can be found in the entire war. The EC-47 must have played a part, but at present we have almost no relative information.
#4. More details are needed on the ARDF contributions specific to the EC-47/6994th, particularly as these details relate to major ground operations such as Cedar Falls/Junction City and the early attempts to disable COSVN.
#5. Along with sensors and other recon assets, ARDF played at least some role in the planning and execution of the annual Commando Hunt truck-busting campaigns in Laos. More detail on the 6994th's relationship with Igloo White/Task Force Alpha is needed. The response noted that "The detachment [Det. 2] participated in a hearability test with Task Force Alpha to check aircraft flying in MACV Area One, Two, and Three." However, nothing from the 6994th histories was received.
#6. Concerning the Cambodian incursion, project Blue Beetle, in which ARDF fixes were passed from EC-47s to "Rustic" (and possibly other) FACs for investigation, is of particular interest from the 6994th standpoint. More specific information on Blue Beetle and an associated project named Contrail is needed to flesh out the story. This response was combined with #2.
#7. ASA's 509th Radio Research Group (RRG) became the focal point for ARDF support of MACV. We do know that the 6994th was a key stakeholder in the ARDF Coordinating Committee (ACC), which was an ad hoc organization set up early on to oversee ASA-USAFSS ARDF operations. The USAFSS perspective on control of ARDF assets (vs. the army and/or NSA) would be most useful.
#8. The 6994th began operations out of NKP in 1969 under project/operation Commando Forge. Evidently considerable diplomatic wrangling was required to convince the Thai government to allow more "spooks" in country. Information relative to the thinking behind the establishment of the NKP detachment is needed.
#9. Of special interest is project Brown Beaver, which was part of a larger Targeting Test Program involving EC-47/FAC cooperation. (Brown Beaver was connected with the now- famous "Raven" FACs.) The response included no material from USAFSS sources but did reference a CHECO report (already on hand but not reproduced here) which does provide useful information.
#10. USAF vs. Army ARDF. One of the more interesting EC-47 sidebars involves a USAFSS/ASA "fly-off" conducted under NSA auspices in Puerto Rico in 1967. Dave Eddy, before his untimely death, provided a good bit of info on this project, but some "official" results would be a most interesting addition.
The impact of ARDF in the conduct of the Vietnam War has been acknowledged for some time now, although only in very general terms. These snippets from contemporary histories, while totaling less than 70 pages and pertaining to diverse and unconnected topics, nonetheless represent an important breakthrough in that, for the first time, certain operational details and specific contributions made by our EC-47 crews are at last coming to light. Efforts to have more of the classified histories released are ongoing.