|Return to A Co. Homepage|
Counteroffensive, Phase V, 1 July 1968 - 1 November 1968. During this period a country-wide effort was begun to restore government control of territory lost to the enemy since the Tet offensive. The enemy attempted another such offensive on 17-18 August but his efforts were comparatively feeble and were quickly overwhelmed by Allied forces.
In the fall of 1968 the South Vietnamese government, with major U.S. support, launched an accelerated pacification campaign. All friendly forces were coordinated and brought to bear on the enemy in every tactical area of operation. In these intensified operations, friendly units first secured a target area, then Vietnamese government units, regional forces/popular forces, police and civil authorities screened the inhabitants, seeking members of the Viet Cong infrastructure. This technique was so successful against the political apparatus that it became the basis for subsequent friendly operations. Government influence expanded into areas of the countryside previously dominated by the Viet Cong to such an extent that two years later at least some measure of government control was evident in all but a few remote regions.
Counteroffensive, Phase VI, 2 November 1968 - 22 February 1969. In November 1968 the South Vietnam government with American support began a concentrated effort to expand security in the countryside. This project was known as the "Accelerated Pacification Campaign."
This period covers the election of President Richard M. Nixon and a change of policy brought about by his administration after January 1969 when he announced a coming end to US combat in Southeast Asia and a simultaneous strengthening of South Vietnam's ability to defend itself. Formal truce negotiations began in Paris on January 25, 1969. The period can be characterized as marking time in preparation for an about face. Forty-seven ground combat operations were recorded during this period, the following being the most important:
(1). Operation NAPOLEON in the Dong Ha area initiated previously (1967) by Marine units, terminated on 9 December 1968.
(2). Operation WHEELER WALLOWA by 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division and 196th Infantry Brigade (Light) in north-central Quan Tin Province. This ended on 11 November.
(3). Operation MACARTHUR initiated by 4th U.S. Infantry Division in II Corps tactical zone terminated on 31 January 1969.
(4). Operation COCHISE GREEN conducted by the 173d Airborne Brigade in Binh Dinh Province.
(5). Operation TOAN THANG II consisted of ground operations throughout III CTZ. This was a multi-division operation involving allied forces.
(6). Operation SEA LORDS was a coast and riverine operation. On 6 December Operation GIANT SLINGSHOT was started to disrupt enemy infiltration of materials from the "Parrot's Beak" area of Cambodia. Air operations continued to be important with over 60,000 sorties flown.
Tet 69/Counteroffensive, 23 February 1969 - 8 June 1969. From Tet 1969 through the month of June, the enemy again tried to sustain an offensive. His inability to do so can be largely attributed to aggressive allied ground operations. Between 23 February and 8 June 1969, a total of 70 significant named ground operations were terminated resulting in heavy enemy loss of life and materiel. The main operations concluded during this period were:
(1). The 3d Marine Division's Operation KENTUCKY aimed at preventing enemy infiltration through the Demilitarized Zone in central Quang Tri Province. Throughout the early part of January 1969, Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army forces continued to avoid major contacts with Free World Forces. Their continual movement to avoid friendly forces or to search for food and supplies contributed to a decrease in the enemy-initiated ground attacks and attacks-by-fire in Quang Tri Province.
(2). Operation NEVADA EAGLE, initiated on 17 May 1968 in Thua Thien Province, continued in 1969 as the U.S. 101st Airborne Division continued to defeat enemy personnel, and capture rice caches, material, and installations within its large area of operations, where it undertook offensive sweeps along Route 547 and around Song Bo.
(3). Two battalions of the 4th Marine Regiment were engaged in Operation SCOTLAND II. Initiated on 15 April 1968, this multi-battalion search and clear operation was centered in and around Khe Sanh.
(4). The IV Corps Tactical Zone Dry Weather Campaign began on 1 December 1968 in support of the overall mission to prevent Viet Cong units from interfering with pacification efforts. This operation, "Speedy Express," interdicted lines of enemy communication and denied him the use of base areas. In 1969 the 1st Brigade, 9th U.S. Infantry Division continued the operation in Dinh Tuong Province, using its highly successful night ambush tactics while the 2d Brigade continued its mission with the Mobile Riverine Force. Although engagements in Operation SPEEDY EXPRESS were typically small, the 9th Infantry Division fought several sizeable engagements with impressive results.
On 23 February U.S. Navy units and installations at Da Nang, Tan An, Ben Luc, Go Dan Ha, and Tra Cu came under numerous and widespread attacks associated with a new enemy offensive, but since many units in these areas were poised to meet these attacks they caused only minimal damage. April saw the heaviest cumulative enemy activity in the barrier interdiction camapign to date.
Summer-Fall 1969, 9 June 1969-31 October 1969. During the summer and fall of 1969, conduct of operations was increasingly turned over to Vietnamese, US troops withdrew in greater numbers amid reaffirmations of support for the Republic of South Vietnam government. President Nixon announced the reduction of the U.S. military presence in South Vietnam which would be demonstrated initially by the withdrawal of 25,000 troops by 31 August 1969.
American troop strength had peaked at 543,400 in April 1969 but dropped to 505,500 by mid October. More scattered than before, enemy attacks were concentrated on South Vietnamese positions. U.S. combat deaths were down in the early fall as American units switched to small unit actions. The trend was not constant, however, because U.S. troops deaths which had fallen well below l00 a week in the fall, rose above 100 later in the year.
Winter-Spring 1970, 1 November 1969-30 April 1970. An increase in enemy-initiated attacks, at the highest level since 4-5 September signaled the start of the first phase of the Communist winter campaign. This was highlighted by intensified harassment incidents, and attacks throughout the Republic of Vietnam. In November-December these were heaviest in Corps Tactical Zones III and IV (around Saigon), primarily directed against Vietnamese military installations in order to disrupt the pacification program. The most significant enemy activity occurred in November with heavy attacks upon By Prang and Duc Lap in CTZ II (Central Vietnam).
By February 1970 the focus of enemy activity began to shift to CTZ I and II. Attacks increased steadily, reaching a peak in April 1970. Hostile forces staged their heaviest attacks in the Central Highlands near Civilian Irregular Defense Group camps at Dak Seang, Dak Pek, and Ben Het in I CTZ. The enemy also conducted numerous attacks by fire and several sapper attacks against U.S. fire support bases. This high level of enemy activity began in I CTZ in April and continued through May.
During the period 1 November 1969 through 30 April 1970 U.S. and allied forces concentrated on aggressive operations to find and destroy enemy main and local forces, the penetration of base camps and installations and the seizure of enemy supplies and materiel. These operations sought to deny the enemy the initiative and to inflict heavy losses in men and materiel. Further progress was made in Vietnamization through improving the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces. As a result of these advances three brigades of the 1st U.S. Infantry Division and several major U.S.M.C. units were withdrawn from Vietnam during this period.
The enemy made several efforts to take the offensive at Dak Seang, which was attacked on 1 April 1970 and remained under siege throughout the month, and at Quang Duc in the By Prong-Duc Lap area which ended on 28 December. Only Vietnamese forces were engaged in both of these operations, the Quang Duc campaign involving some 12,000 ARVN troops. South Vietnamese forces again took the offensive on 14 April in a bold 3-day operation in the Angel's Wing area along the Cambodian border. The Vietnamese Army completed this mission in an aggressive professional manner without U.S. support—further evidence of their growing proficiency.
Sanctuary Counteroffensive, 1 May 1970 - 30 June 1970. This campaign was mainly concerned with the Allied incursion into Cambodia, codenamed Operation ROCK CRUSHER. As American withdrawal from South Vietnam proceeded, increasing concern arose over the enemy's strength in the sanctuaries inside Cambodia. With the emergence in Cambodia of an antiCommunist government under Lon Nol, President Nixon relaxed the restrictions on moving against the bases inside Cambodia. Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong began to move on the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. At this juncture Lon Nol appealed to the United States for help. American and allied Vietnamese forces began large-scale offensives in Cambodia on 1 May. Eight major US Army and South Vietnamese operations took place in Cambodia in May and June with the object of cutting enemy communication lines, seizing the sanctuary areas and capturing the shadowy Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN) described as the control center for enemy military operations against III CTZ.
Counteroffensive, Phase VII, 1 July 1970 - 30 June 1971. Fighting continued in Cambodia during early February before and after South Vietnam began its U.S.-aided drive in Laos, Lam Son 719, the most significant operation during this campaign.
Lam Son 719 was conducted out of I Corps by Vietnamese troops with US fire and air support. Their object was to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail and to destroy enemy bases at Techepone, Laos. The operation consisted of four phases. In Phases I, called Operation DEWEY CANYON II, the 1st Brigade, US 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) occupied the Khe Sanh area and cleared Route No. 9 up to the Laotian border. In the meantime, the US 101st Airborne Division conducted diversionary operations in the A Shau Valley. The US 45th Engineer Group had the mission of repairing Route No. 9 up to the Laotian border. This lasted from 30 January to 7 February 1971. During Phase II US forces continued to provide fire support, helilift, and tactical and strategic air support for ARVN units. This phase was 8 February to March 1971. Phase III ran from March to 16 March 1971; Phase IV was the withdrawal phase.
Faced with mounting losses, Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Lam, the commander of the invasion forces, decided to cut short the operation and ordered a withdrawal.
Lam Son 719, though it was less than a signal success, forestalled a Communist offensive in the spring of 1971. Enemy units and replacements enroute south were diverted to the scene of the action.
Consolidation I, 1 July 1971 - 30 November 1971. This period witnessed additional progress in the Vietnamization program which included turning over the ground war to South Vietnam, sustaining the withdrawal of U.S. troops, but also continuing, U.S. air strikes on enemy targets.
South Vietnam assumed full control of defense for the area immediately below the demilitarized zone on 11 July, a process begun in 1969. Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird announced completion of Phase I of Vietnamization on 11 August which meant that the U.S. relinquished all ground combat responsibilities to the Republic of Vietnam. The participation of U.S. forces in ground combat operations had not ceased, however, U.S. maneuver battalions were still conducting missions, and the 101st Airborne Division joined the 1st Army of Vietnam 1st Infantry Division in Operation JEFFERSON GLEN that took place in Thua Thien Province in October. This was the last major combat operation in Vietnam which involved U.S. ground forces. Following the close of Operation JEFFERSON GLEN on 8 October, the 101st began stand-down procedures and was the last U.S. division to leave Vietnam.
U.S. troop strengths decreased during Consolidation I. American battle deaths for July 1971 were 66, the lowest monthly figure since May 1967. By early November, U.S. troop totals dropped to 191,000, the lowest level since December 1965. In early November, President Nixon announced that American troops had reverted to a defensive role in Vietnam.