SOG (Studies and Observation Group) was a joint service command that conducted clandestine operations throughout Southeast Asia. It operated under MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) rather than a single branch and was overseen by the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA) in the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.
There were several subgroups:
- Psychological Studies Group – Made false radio broadcasts
- Air Studies Group – Dropped and recovered special intelligence groups into Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam. Flew Bell UH-1F “Green Hornet” and Sikorsky H-34 Seahorse/Choctaw helicopters, Lockheed C-130s, Fairchild C-123 Providers.
- Maritime Studies Group – Commando raids along North Vietnamese coast and the Mekong Delta.
- Ground Studies Group – Most missions. Ambushes, raids, monitoring locations of American POWs, assassinations, kidnappings, rescuing airmen downed in Communist-controlled territory, long range recon patrols, training and dispatching agents into North Vietnam to run resistant movement operations, harassment and booby-trapping of infiltration routs and ammo supply facilities.
Three field commands were formed in 1967.
- Command and Control Central (CCC) – Located in Kontum. Operated in triborder region of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
- Command and Control North (CCN) – Located in Da Nang. Operated in Laos and North Vietnam.
- Command and Control South (CCS) – Located in Ban Me Thuot. Operation in Viet Cong dominated areas of South Vietnam and Cambodia.
SOG teams consisted of mostly US Army Special Forces leading units composed of South Vietnamese, Montagnards, and Chinese Nungs (the last two being ethnic groups of Southeast Asia).
That’s a very basic overview, but I recommend the following for more information.
Previous posts featuring MACV-SOG can be found here: #SOG
- US MACV-SOG Reconnaissance Team in Vietnam by Gordon L Rottman
- The Secret War Against Hanoi: The Untold Story of Spies, Saboteurs, and Covert Warriors in North Vietnam by Richard H Schultz Jr
- The Dying Place by David A Maurer
- Maurer fictionalized his experiences in Vietnam with MACV SOG due to security restrictions in place. They are meant to be representative of his time with SOG however. It is a very good read.
[Source: The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History edited by Spencer C Tucker]