Uncle Ho’s Hideout #6 – Modifying Orgfiles with Notepad++

Campaign Series Vietnam | Modifying Orgfiles with Notepad++

In Uncle Ho’s Hideout series, David Galster shares some of his tips and techniques in scenario research and design for Campaign Series Vietnam. By popular demand – here’s one more!

Well Komrades,

This issue is about a more efficient way to update orgfiles with Notepad ++ or jEdit rather than using the org editor.

Sometimes we discover our orgfile has the wrong units in many places. To correct this with the org editor, we have to find the right platoon on the unit tree on the left of the org editor and import it to the org structure on the right using the “Add Unit” icon. Once it is imported, and we enter its correct unit name, like 2nd Platoon, we have to place it in the right location in the structure. This is done with up, down, left, and right arrows to move the platoon. Going from the bottom to the correct place for many units is very tedious and time consuming.

Unit replacements can be made using Notepad ++ instead and can be much quicker. For example, in the orgfile Mang_Yang_1965.org there are many ARVN Ranger platoons, P112041. This was a 1963 ARVN Ranger unit. Suppose you find that in this particular battle that the weapons and training were not up to par, and also through playtesting, you decide that a more realistic unit is the P112040, a 1960 Ranger Platoon. This change could be made in the org editor. But, there are 12 Ranger platoons involved. This means that you would have to go to the org editor, find the 1960 Ranger platoon, and then using the “Add Unit” icon, add in 12 units. Then, these all have to be renamed to the proper platoon, like 1st, 2nd, etc. Then for each one, move it using the left, right, up, and down arrow commands, and move into position and delete the old unit.

Instead, the file Mang_Yang_1965.org, can be opened using Notepad ++. Once it is showing, use the “Advance Find” icon. (On the “Home” tab to the far right.) Find P112041, and in the replace field, type P112040. Then use the “Replace All” button to make these replacements. Of course, if you are uncertain, you can find one, replace it, and do this more cautiously. Imagine how much quicker this can be done than using the org editor. Save the file. Then, you can go into the org editor to verify results.

I imagine that Uncle Ho liked to find easier ways of waging war also.

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Ho's Hideout

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This bonus post completes the Uncle Ho’s Hideout series. Again, I hope you have enjoyed them. Next, I will begin a series of articles focused on scenario design, in Hack’s Hardcore Hints. Til then!

Uncle Ho’s Hideout #5 – Master Map Concept

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

In Uncle Ho’s Hideout series, David Galster shares some of his tips and techniques in scenario research and design for CS: Vietnam.

Well Komrades,

Most scenarios are accompanied by other battles fought in nearby areas. Sometimes, an action is part of a larger campaign covering a whole region or province. Instead of creating a separate map file for each scenario, it is useful to first make a single “master” map that covers an overall area. Then, maps for individual scenarios can be made by cutting sections from the master map. Also, the areas can be tailored for different combat situations or hypothetical cases.

Such a “master” map often covers a very large area, perhaps a half degree latitude and longitude, or 55 kilometers or more to a side. (Currently I am working on a map that is 242×334 hexes.) This offers more flexibility to create appropriate map areas for multiple battles, even campaigns. The Campaign Series map editor feature for “shift” and “extent” makes if possible to take a larger map and cut out parts of it for scenarios in specific areas.

An example of a “master” map is shown as a “jump” map. This map is 242×334 hexes and covers 1/2° of longitude and 3/4° latitude. This is an area of 83.5 km x 53 km. The developed parts are not all connected. The area to the lower left is large enough for a scenario about an NVA attack on Long Tieng. The larger area to the upper right is the Plain of Jars, where many battles were fought during the Laos Secret War:

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

“Jump Map” of a Laos Master Map – 242×334 hexes

The unfortunate fact is that the Campaign Series map editor does not include paste or combine functions. Two separate map files cannot be combined into one to make a larger map. To obtain a large map, the size has to be made large in the beginning, or added to in blank form and developed manually. If the map is initially created very large,  then the developed areas can be completed on an “as needed” basis for scenarios.

These don’t even have to be adjacent to each other. By designating a reference hex and coordinate, either MGRS or geographical, later grid overlays can be accurately positioned by calculating placement coordinates. I am attaching such a spreadsheet that uses MGRS coordinates to determine hex locations for grid overlay placement.  If the map has to be added to, the hex coordinates change, and the reference hexes may need to be re-established.

Another advantage to employing the master map concept is that scenario maps tend to be larger than if just made individually. A scenario using larger maps has less need for reinforcements and offboard artillery. More units can be placed on the mapboard at the start of a scenario because more room is available.

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout
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This post completes the Uncle Ho’s Hideout series. I hope you have enjoyed them!

Uncle Ho’s Hideout #4 – Indochina Topographical Maps

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

In Uncle Ho’s Hideout series, David Galster shares some of his tips and techniques in scenario research and design for CS: Vietnam. 

Well Komrades,

There are some good sources of topographical maps to use in making Vietnam maps. The Series L-7014 (Vietnam,) and L-7015 (Laos) are the best. These are US Army Map Service topographical maps in 1:50000 scale, which is the optimal scale for Campaign Series.

Here are three websites where you can download these maps for free.

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/vietnam/

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/laos/

http://www.explo-laos.com/Explo-Laos/Cartes_(en).html

The sheet numbers have four digits with a dash and a Roman numeral suffix. For example, 5651-IV is the area of Dien Bien Phu.

Notice that for the 5651 numbers, there are four maps, numbered clockwise from northeast to northwest, I, II, III, and IV:

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

The 5651 area covers ½ degrees latitude and longitude and is from 21°30’N, 103°E to 21°N, 103°30’E. Each sheet covers 15 minutes of latitude and longitude. Also, these sheets have the Military Grid Reference System MGRS grids, which facilitate accurate positioning for overlays.

How to identify the appropriate four-digit sheet numbers?

Well if you know the Geographical coordinates, that is latitude and longitude, then the numbering system follows a formula rule.

First identify the nearest ½ degree coordinates in the northwest corner. For example, for the sheets 5651, the latitude is 21°30’ or 21.5 and the longitude is 103°. The first two digits may be determined by a formula using longitude (λ):

=(λ-100)/0.5+50   or, (103-100)/0/5+ 50 = 56

And the second two digits may be found with this formula using latitude (φ)

=54 – (23- φ)/0.5  or,  54 – (23-21.5)/0.5 = 51 

Put them together, and you have 5651.

(Don’t worry, a MS Excel spreadsheet can be made available to do this very easily).

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

I imagine that Uncle Ho probably liked these maps too. That is, the ones stolen from from US command posts, or from crashed aircraft. Who knows? 

But, we do know that the Vietminh did manage to intercept some French air drops in January 1954 near Dien Bien Phu. Guess what were in those containers? French Army maps, 1:25000 of Dien Bien Phu. And, they showed the various strongpoints, like Dominique or Claudine. And, these very accurate maps did come in handy for Vietminh artillerists plotting targets. . .

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In next episode of Uncle Ho’s Hideout, I’ll explain how to use a Master Map concept, with help of MGRS grids, in scenario design. Until then!

Uncle Ho’s Hideout #3 – PAVN Concise Unit Notation

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

In Uncle Ho’s Hideout series, David Galster shares some of his tips and techniques in scenario research and design for CS: Vietnam. 

Good Day, Komrades!

Have you ever noticed the strange PAVN unit names like d4/e272?

Well, it turns out that this refers to the 4th Battalion, 272th Regiment. This shorthand notation was apparently widely used by the North Vietnamese Army.

Our dear friend Stephane Moutin-Luyat explained to me that he learned about it from a Vietnamese friend, who specialized in Vietnam War history. This “concise” notation was used during both Vietnam wars. The modern Vietnamese Army uses this in an official manner, even for payroll purposes.

Decoding is rather easy by knowing that the following letters refer to unit sizes:

  • a = Squad,
  • b = Platoon,
  • c = Company,
  • d = Battalion,
  • e = Regiment, and
  • f = Division.
  • There are no codes for brigades or corps.

If a lower unit is to be identified, the listing is from lower to higher units, left to right.

Therefore, c11/d3/e9/f304 would be the 11th company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Regiment, of the 304th Infantry Division.

Variants of this notation include capital letters instead of lower case. And, sometimes the slashes are eliminated, and only spaces separate them. So C11 D3 E9 F304 would be a variation in the notation.

Sometimes additional letters, usually capitalized, are included which indicate the unit type. For infantry, BB (Bo Binh,) and artillery, PB (Phao Binh) are sometimes used. For example, dBB8/f304 means 8th Infantry battalion of the 304th Division.

The concise unit notation is something that can be used quite effectively for Campaign Series Order of Battle (.OOB) files, although it is more abstract than conventional naming.

Another way that this information is useful is in researching PAVN units or battle histories, particularly on Vietnamese websites. If you are aware of this notation, then you will recognize references to units more quickly, and know to look for them.

Well, I wonder what Uncle Ho thought of this notation

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

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In next episode of Uncle Ho’s Hideout, I’ll explain how you can more quickly obtain topographical maps in Indochina. Until then!

Uncle Ho’s Hideout #2 – MGRS Coordinate Conversions

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

In Uncle Ho’s Hideout series, David Galster shares some of his tips and techniques in scenario research and design for CS: Vietnam. 

Welcome back, Komrades!

Sometimes we find location information in the form of the MGRS or military grid reference system. And naturally, we may want to convert these coordinates to latitide and longitude, commonly known as geographic coordinates.

Fortunately, there are several good webpages that make this conversion online. One such webpage is “Legal Land Converter” Here is the link:

http://legallandconverter.com/p50.html

 

To use this site, the MGRS coordinates must be in the form 48Q YD 929072.

  • The first number-letter combination, 48Q is the Zone Code. Each zone is 6° by 8°, longitude by latitude.
  • The next two letters, column and row are sub-zones.
  • Finally, the numbers are always given in even numbered digits. The first half is “easting” and the second is “northing.”

In this example, 929 is 92.9 km east of the “Y” western boundary. The more numbers given, the more precise the location.

If the MGRS coordinates have the full form, then use the website to find the geographic coordinates. This is what the entry looks like:

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

In this case, the geographic coordinates are 16.32810°N, 107.74123°E.

A new screen in the webpage shows this information and provides links to Google, Bing, and MapQuest maps for convenience.

Sometimes, reports will only show the row-column letters followed by the grid digits. For example, in a list of firebases, only the MGRS coordinates: YD 929072 are given. In this situation, you can still do the conversion, but must first find the zone code. The Indochina area zone map shows these codes.

What if you pick the wrong zone code?

Fortunately, the way the MGRS is organized, a pair of row-column letters in one zone cannot be found in an adjacent zone.

For example, if instead of entering 48Q, we used 48P, the webpage would give an error message: 100K row letter = ‘D’ is not inside Zone ’48P’. This may help avoid mistakes.

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

Indochina Zone Codes

This is one way to convert MGRS coordinates to geographic ones.

Conclusion

I don’t know whether Uncle Ho knew about the MGRS system, but if he did, he would surely have sent out spies to get as much information, and as many US military maps as possible!

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In next episode of Uncle Ho’s Hideout, I’ll provide a little explanation and background about what appears to be a strange code for PAVN unit identification. Until then!

Uncle Ho’s Hideout #1 – Vietnamese Language Searches

Campaign Series Vietnam | Uncle Hos Hideout

In Uncle Ho’s Hideout series, David Galster shares some of his tips and techniques in scenario research and design for CS: Vietnam. 

Welcome to the site, Komrade!

Our first article explains how you can use Google Translate and the Vietnamese language for research on PAVN units.

Sometimes, searching these units in English just doesn’t yield much information. But, if these internet searches are carried out in the Vietnamese language, then you can find more hits related to your keywords. And, using Google Translate, you can get the results back in English. Admittedly, the Google translations back into English don’t always sound like a natural English speaker’s style, but you can get the information you are seeking.

How to translate English keywords into Vietnamese?

One approach I have used is to use the Vietnamese Military Terms Glossary. For example, to find a commander name for the 316th Infantry Division, the word for “Division” is “Su Doan” in Vietnamese and “commander” is “chi huy.”

So, a possible search text is “Su Doan 316 chi huy”.

Using Google to search this set of keywords, the following first three hits were obtained at the time of writing this article:

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Sư đoàn 316, Quân đội Nhân dân Việt Nam – Wikipedia tiếng Việt

https://vi.wikipedia.org/…/Sư_đoàn_316,_Quân_đội_Nhân_dân_Vi… Translate this page
Sư đoàn được thành lập ngày 01 tháng 5 năm 1951, sư đoàn trưởng đầu tiên là tướng Lê Quảng Ba, chính ủy là đồng chí Chu Huy Mân. Là một trong 6 sư …
Thành phần · ‎Chiến tranh Đông Dương · ‎Trong chiến tranh Việt

Tìm kiếm | Sư đoàn 316 (Quân khu 2) – Báo quân đội nhân dân

www.qdnd.vn › Tìm kiếm Translate this page
QĐND – Sư đoàn 316 (Quân khu 2) với lực lượng chiến sĩ trẻ chiếm đa số, công tác quản lý tư tưởng gặp không ít khó khăn. Những năm qua, Đảng ủy, chỉ huy …

Đoan Hùng kiểm tra lực lượng dự bị động viên Sư đoàn … – Chi tiết tin

doanhung.phutho.gov.vn/Chuyen-muc-tin/Chi…/Default.aspx Translate this page
Tại buổi khai mạc, Ban Chỉ huy Quân sự huyện đã công bố quyết định kiểm tra … 25 của trung đoàn 148 và đại đội 15, 16, 25 của trung đoàn 174 sư đoàn 316.

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Examine the first hit by clicking the link “Translate this page.” (These work, and you can click them to get the webpage.)

A Wikipedia article comes up in English. The “harvested” information is that on May 1, 1951, the first division commander was General Le Quang Ba, and the political commissar was comrade Chu Huy Man. These commander names could be used in an .ORG file for a scenario that took place in the First Indochina War with the French.

Some of the hits refer to modern PAVN units and commanders, and the years or locations can be included in the search text to get more refined hits.

More exact search words can be obtained by translating from English to Vietnamese. MS Word can do this using the translate option, or the Google translate module is available. In this case, the search words would look like: “Chỉ huy sư đoàn 316.” This may get a better set of results than the first search word set without the accent marks. This should open up whole new vistas for CS Vietnam scenario research.

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In next episode of Uncle Ho’s Hideout, I explain how to convert MGRS coordinates to latitude and longitude.