Anniversary of the South Vietnamese army offensive Lam Son 719

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Steve
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Anniversary of the South Vietnamese army offensive Lam Son 719

Post by Steve » 15 Feb 2021 15:04

Launched in February 1971 and lasting till March this was the largest operation undertaken by the army of South Vietnam or ARVN up to this time. The aim was to disrupt the Ho Chin Min trail and show that Vietnamisation of the war was working. About 17,000 men including some of the best units in the ARVN backed up by US air support advanced into Laos. Though no US ground forces were involved they provided backup support along the Laos border. The amount of air support provided by the US not only for the ARVN but for its own forces was huge. After initial success the ARVN was badly defeated by the North Vietnamese army and suffered about 5,000 casualties. That the North Vietnamese army was not only able to survive the US aerial campaign against it but also launch a counter attack shows that it was a remarkable force. The web site at the bottom gives a comprehensive account of the battle.

Part 9 of the made for TV documentary “The Vietnam War” plays tape recording of discussions between Nixon and Kissinger with regard to the operation. Then it shows part of the televised speech Nixon made shortly afterwards and how he spun what he claimed was the successful Vietnamisation of the war. After the speech there is a tape recording between Nixon and Kissinger about the success of the speech. In the documentary we also hear from the ARVN commander of an elite battalion whose unit numbered about 600 men at the start and about 55 at the end. Given that US forces tended to count all dead Vietnamese as enemy dead how accurate casualty figures are is open to question.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Lam_Son_719

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Re: Anniversary of the South Vietnamese army offensive Lam Son 719

Post by Futurist » 16 Feb 2021 23:46

Something interesting that I found out is that initially the South Vietnamese insurgents were primarily locals--as in, the Viet Cong--but later on as a result of the Viet Cong's numbers becoming severely depleted due to them taking huge casualties as a result of the US military intervention in Vietnam, most of the South Vietnamese insurgents later on in the Vietnam War--especially after the Tet Offensive of 1968--were actually North Vietnamese troops who were sent over to South Vietnam to help the Communist war effort there. When your enemy has a fresh and ready supply of men who are willing to resupply their insurgency, well, it's considerably harder to defeat them, especially if you are unwilling to actually remain in place and continue fighting the very same war nonstop for decades.

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Re: Anniversary of the South Vietnamese army offensive Lam Son 719

Post by Steve » 18 Feb 2021 16:44

Yes the Viet Cong suffered such high casualties in the Tet offensive that from then on the war was mainly fought by North Vietnamese troops. The political leadership in the north had insisted on the offensive expecting a general uprising to take place but there was no uprising and the offensive was a military failure. How the North supplied its forces in the south down the Ho Chi Min trail with the Americans bombing it 24 hrs a day is incredible. A North Vietnamese speaking on the documentary said that soldiers were coming south with only three months training presumably because training could not keep up with losses unless shortened. A leading North Vietnamese whose name escapes me said they were willing to lose ten men to one American.

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Re: Anniversary of the South Vietnamese army offensive Lam Son 719

Post by Futurist » 18 Feb 2021 20:55

Just how did North Vietnam manage to constantly keep the Ho Chi Minh Trail up and running? Through the use of tunnels? Through some other method(s)?

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Re: Anniversary of the South Vietnamese army offensive Lam Son 719

Post by Steve » 19 Feb 2021 00:13

The Ho Chi Min trail was not one trail it was a network of trails running south. There were units stationed at intervals all along the trails whose job was to repair the damage done by US bombing. A lot of supplies were supposedly moved by bicycle which is how the Viet Minh moved their supplies up to Dien Bien Phu and surprised the French. Movement was mainly at night with truck lights so dim you could only see a few feet and if I remember correctly a truck driver would drive one section constantly so that he got to know it. A lot of women worked along the trail just like the men. There is lots of information about the battles the US forces in Vietnam fought but very little except in general terms about how the North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong managed to fight them to a standstill.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho_Chi_Minh_trail

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