Conrad “Ben” B. Baker passed away yesterday.


If you don’t know who Ben Baker was, he developed many special items and program sfor Army Special Forces during Vietnam. Baker was the head of the CISO ( Counter Insurgency Support Office) based on Okinawa, Japan. CISO came up with most of the more famous and unique items used by MAVC SOG teams during the war.

Some of the inventions and items he purchased and/or helped to make:

Inventing Indigenous Rations: “Early in the war,” Baker said, “the Montagnards were getting the runs from U.S. rations. So I went over to Nam, Laos, talked to some key nutritionists there and put together indigenous rations, which consisted of precooked rice placed in a plastic bag, shaped like a tube. The rice I laced with Vitamin B because the ‘Yards had a vitamin defi‘ciency.” Baker went to Taiwan, got pre-cooked rice, then developed several rice seasonings, beef, ‘sh, squid and mutton, to name a few. When he went to the Navy Laboratory, “they told me it would take two to three years to produce it. That’s nuts,” Baker said. He went to a company, placed an order for 30,000 meals for “about a buck a piece.” By the end of the Vietnam War, Baker estimates that CISO had sent at least 66 million individual Indigenous Rations that were used by U.S. allies in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and other lo-cations. Highly respected 5th Special Forces Group Commander COL Robert Rheault “estimated that we may have used more than 80 million…. I’m not going to argue with the colonel,” Baker said.

Inventing “Eldest Son” ammo that exploded when used by enemy troops in their AK-47 or 81 mm mortar, killing or maiming the enemy. “Also, we had old PRC-10 radios,” said Baker. “Instead of getting rid of them, we packed them with C-4 and would leave the battery in it and drop it in enemy territory. When an enemy would squeeze the talk key, it would explode.”

Inventing the fi‘rst SOG Knife: “The ‘first model of it, I used a spring from a Jeep, due to its metallic strength. However, I didn’t like it and threw it into the ocean,” Baker said, “I used the stacked leather handle on it, that was an idea I got from my father’s Marbles Gladstone Skinning Knife…. My design of the fi‘rst seven-inch SOG Knife had a tilt upward edge to the blade for maximum penetration…. I designed it so the weight and balance made it a good throwing knife too. I believe (Green Beret Medal of Honor Recipient) SGM Jon Cavaiani told me he threw the knife at an NVA soldier and it killed him.” The ‘rst order of 1,300 SOG Knives went to Yogi Shokai, the Japanese trading company CISO worked with at that time.

Indig Rucks: “We invented the Indig Rucks because the things the CIA were using at that time were too big for the indigenous troops working with SF and the agency,” Baker said. All SOG teams used those rucks throughout the war.• Improved the jungle boots: “(At CISO) We tried to think ahead, we took trips to Southeast Asia to talk to the men in the ‘eld. We believed that it should be the man in the ‘eld who should determine what their troops need, not some fat-assed bureaucrat sitting behind some a desk at DoD or the White House. When they came out with jungle boots we put the metal plate in the bottom due to the gosh-awful punji sticks the SF men and their indig were encountering in ‘Nam – punji sticks that had been dipped in human excrement, to worsen the infection

Also, there were times that Baker or his staff would send experi-mental weapons to SOG recon teams for testing and opinions. For example, during 1968 at the top secret SOG base, FOB 1 in Phu Bai, CISO staff sent a gyro pistol and a large pump shotgun that ‘red the 40 mm round used in the M-79 grenade launcher. The gyro pistol was turned back, and the experimental pump was turned back after ST Idaho carried it on one mission. It had a bad habit of jamming while extracting the empty cartridge. When it worked, ‘five rounds could be ‘fired in less than a minute, which gave a six-man recon team a lot of ‘firepower, but a lot of extra weight to carry in the ‘eld.Last, but not least, “My name is on that damned Bolo Machete,” Baker said, spitting the words out of his mouth. “That’s a hunk of shit. Some damned general somewhere ordered someone to make it, they did, and because I put the wooden handle on it, my name is on it. That’s one I’m not proud of…. We went out and got better stuff like the Survival Ax Type (produced by Frank and Warren Inc.).”

excerpts from article written by John Stryker Meyer –James Bond had “Q.”SOG had Baker. Ben Baker. -2017


  1. love these type of stories. I think I have an original CISO rucksack. or it might be the CIDG one. I never paid much attention to it when my friend gave it to me. apparently they are much copied/reproduced now. But considering how long ago I got it and how nasty it is I think it’s safe to assume it’s legit. I’ll have to find the box and dig it out.


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