Polei Kleng Special Forces Camp
During the war U.S. Special Forces established a number of bases along the border areas of the Central Highlands. These camps served a variety of purposes and missions. Primarily they provided an allied presence in areas that were remote and traditionally tribal. This type of mission was and is the bread and butter of the Green Beret who made up the majority of US forces based in them. The location of these camps also served as a buffer directly in the line of main infiltration routes of the PAVN and VC forces from their bases in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. This in turn gave units such as MACV-SOG close jumping off points for their own across the border operations.
Polei Kleng Special Forces Camp was established in 1966 by the 5th Special Forces Group. The camp was located along what is now Route DT 674 about 15 kilometers west of Kon Tum just east of the deep jungle area of Chu Mom Ray which today is a beautiful national park.
One unique feature of many SF camps was that the indigenous soldiers that US forces lead brought their families within the wire of the camp to live. This gave the indigenous forces something bigger to fight for than just ideology or financial gain. It also bonded the Allied forces with the Montagnard soldiers in a way not seen as often with advisors to ARVN units.
The video below is shot while driving in the Chu Mom Ray National Park west of Polei Kleng.
During the Wayne Grey offensive in March and April of 1969 the camp was used as a staging area as troops from mainly the 4th Infantry Division were shipped towards its objectives in and around the Plei Trap Vallley.
In 1972 during the Battle of Kon Tum the camp finally fell to the attacking PAVN forces as they had set out to take the whole province. Together with Dak To and Ben Het that were also overrun during the battle, the overwhelming assault was finally too much for the defending ARVN forces who fled towards Kon Tum City.
Finding the old camp site is very easy. The runway crosses the road as one approaches the small town from east. Although it is not much left of the camp, one can navigate along the old runway as well as make out about where the main camp was situated. We also recommend venturing further west as well as north to discover other sites in the area such as the string of Fire Support Bases that were located on Rocket Ridge north of Polei Kleng.
During the war this was quite a remote area but over the years the area has become more populated so today the small town is reachable over the day from both Pleiku and Kon Tum. For those interested in exploring the area we recommend staying in Kon Tum. One will reach all these sites over day with enough time to spend on site discovering. For travelers just passing through on their way to or from Kham Duc, there is plenty of time to visit the camp.
How to get there
Being located so close to Kon Tum City is is not more than a forty five minute drive out to the camp. The road is in good condition so even a taxi will do the job.
Decimal coordinates: 14.397 107.804