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Friday, 23 February 2007

More from Van Kiep. part 2. Memories of Vietnam

Somewhere the decision had been taken to upgrade the system and to install another Decca chain. The new chain, consisting of the usual master and three slave stations would become the central chain and we would become the southern. Was there some vague hope somewhere that one day there would be a northern chain around Hanoi? We would convert from the Mark 5 to the Mark 12 that I had used in the Bahamas. For technical details on all the different systems I again refer you to Jerry Proc's excellent site which you will find in my "Links".
All of this meant we had to do a fair amount of work. We might have had it easy for a couple of years but when the company said all work and no play everybody had to set to.
My own view is that it was a strategic mistake. Before, we had been a small project, lost in the mass of general accounting. Vietnam was full of projects. But when one became Big one got noticed and people asked how much you cost etc.
Once this new system had been installed and the central chain set up the military would take over the running of everything and we would have more of an advisorial role. Whereas Decca ran the stations with three or four people ( two or three in the Bahamas) the military would require ten. If you have ten per station you need a support company at base to supply them. If we could go a year or two without leave they were always off on R&R. We would often spend three or four years on a posting whereas the military rotated every year in Vietnam. Of course all of this needed transport and logistics.
It was naturally all part of the grand scheme of might is right and therefore must prevail. Tet was waiting round the corner but was of course not an expected guest.

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