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THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE 12 DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE THREE INDO-CHINA WARS.

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Presentation on theme: "THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE 12 DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE THREE INDO-CHINA WARS."— Presentation transcript:

1 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE 12 DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE THREE INDO-CHINA WARS presented by DAVE SABBEN MG 06 – Khe Sanh Jan – Apr 1968

2 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT BACKGROUND Since Operation Starlite in 1965, US forces in SVN had been setting up the Route 9 defence below the DMZ. Camp Carroll was the key fire support base and Khe Sanh was the key base for operations against the main infiltration routes into SVN along the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail. CAU VIET § § 2

3 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT SITING KHE SANH The US needed a launch place for their top secret Special Forces patrols into the areas next to Laos. Khe Sanh was a level plateau among the hills with an existing airstrip – ideal for the job. All the Civilian Irregular Defence Groups (CIDFs) around the area were moved to Lang Vei.  =====10,000 yards=====  3

4 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT SETTING UP THE BASE The base was some 1750 by 875 yds and by Jan 68 contained three Marine Battalions - about 6680 defenders. In a series of “hill fights”, the Marines took and placed a Company of men (about 100 each) onto some of the surrounding peaks – hills were labelled by their heights “881”, “861”, “558” etc. The whole base was dug in, incl Mortars, 105s & 155s. 4

5 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT CONTROVERSY Each side claims a different strategy in the Khe Sanh campaign – was it a diversion for the Tet Offensive, or was it the main game? RESOLUTION No orders cut before the event prove either way. In the event, the nature of the war changed after Tet so it became academic. NVN (1)Make the US think they were going to attack Khe Sanh, but in fact only use it to divert attention from the upcoming Tet campaign of 1968. (2)Contain a lot of US troops outside the cities which were the main Tet targets. USA (1)Set up a base for operations into the unpopulated north west of Quang Tri. (2)In the process, hope to draw the NVA into a decisive set-piece battle along Dien Bien Phu lines, but which the US would win by fire- and air-power. NVN (yes) It was a Western army in a valley surrounded by a Communist army. (yes) Seizure of Khe Sanh would have been a propaganda victory that might have ended the war. (no) The NVA did not own the heights or the supply lines and the area wasn’t remote. USA (yes) It was the ground chosen by the US forces and suited their defence task. (yes) The ground occupied sat across the NVA infiltration routes and could not be permitted by the NVA to remain. (no) The US had the heights, the artillery and the air support to hold out. BUT WAS IT A “DIEN BIEN PHU”? 5

6 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT TIMELINE – DEC 1967 By the end of December 1967, Special Forces patrols reported large numbers of NVA entering the area from Laos and the DMZ but not proceeding south. This indicated a huge build-up of forces under way in the Khe Sanh area. NVA 304 Div and 325C Div were identified – estimated at about 20,000 men. 17 JAN 68 The NVA occupied the undefended Hill 881North, which overlooked the base. The Marines attacked and took the hill on 20 Jan but were ordered to withdraw and return to Khe Sanh – Intelligence now indicated that an attack was imminent. EARLY JANUARY 68 The Marines occupied Hill 881South and Hill 861A, defending each with a Company (about 100 men) east and north-west of the base. 6

7 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 20/21 JAN 68 Just after midnight, 300 NVA with sappers breached the defences on Hill 861 and captured the chopper pad. A swift counter-attack while still dark recaptured the pad and repulsed the attack. The first attack heralded the start of what would be a 77-day siege. 21 JAN 68 At 0530, hundreds of rockets and shells pounded Khe Sanh, directed from Hill 881North. An early rocket hit was the main ammo dump. 1500 tons of bombs, shells, grenades and bullets lit up. Choppers parked nearby were blown away. Secondary explosions continued for 48 hours as the munitions “cooked off”. 7

8 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 21 JAN 68 As the base was being shelled, a ground attack was placed on the village of Khe Sanh and its ARVN garrison. Despite stiff defence, and after renewed attacks in the afternoon, the ARVN forces evacuated the town and withdrew to the nearby FSBs. 30 JAN Tet starts. 5 FEB 68 Attacks on Hill 861A were repulsed. 7 FEB 68 The Lang Vei base was attacked and over-run, the defenders scattering to other nearby bases. 8 FEB 68 Attacks on the main base approached but did not breach the wire. 8

9 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 10 FEB 68 The base was under constant shelling by 130mm and 152mm artillery based in Laos and the DMZ. After several days of bombardment, a C-130 resupply aircraft was destroyed on the airstrip. Over the following week, more aircraft were hit. It was decided to stop resupply by landing aircraft. An average of 2500 rounds were landing on and around the base per week and, on 23 Feb alone, 1307 rounds were counted. The base, already dug in, moved further underground. Days were spent in deep bunkers with sentries posted on the perimeter. 9

10 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT FEB 68 With aircraft losses too high to sustain, resupply of the base moved to more innovative methods. One method was by parachute drop….. (shades of Dien Bien Phu!) …or by Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES), where the plane flies low over the airstrip with it’s loading ramp lowered. A parachute attached to the cargo is opened. The parachute then drags the cargo onto the ground. This reduced but did not eliminate aircraft losses. Chinook CH-46’s also delivered resupplies, but 17 of these choppers were lost over the two months. 10

11 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT FEB – MAR 68 As time went by, the base and its outlaying hilltop positions developed a complete network of trenches and bunkers. The daily routine became repairing the damage from the previous and overnight shelling before the fog cleared in the morning, then retreat into the bunkers to survive the day’s shelling, only coming out for necessary tasks – like the retrieval of resupplies. Despite the presence of some 20,000 NVA troops, no major attack eventuated. There were many small hilltop attacks as the NVA struggled to dominate the heights, but the Marines never lost a position. 11

12 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT MARCH 68 As the Siege continued, the Marines were kept supplied with food & ammo and the casualties were taken out by daring “Dustoff” missions. As the weather started to clear in later March, the threat of NVA attacks reduced. Many of the attacks that were made on the base and hilltop positions were stopped with air and artillery fire alone rather than combat. EARLY APRIL 68 The airstrip was cleared and C-130s were able to land again. The base was as strong as ever. Surplus troops were flown out and fresh troops brought in. While the land link had not been established, the danger to the existence of the Khe Sanh base had disappeared. 12

13 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT LATE MAR – EARLY APR 68 With the base no longer tightly sieged, an Operation (“Pegasus”) was launched to re-create a land link. The US 1 st Cavalry Division cleared the road to Khe Sanh….. On 8 APR, the two forces met….. …..the siege had ended. 13

14 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 14 APRIL 68 (Easter Sunday) The Marines re-occupied Hill 881North. The opposition at Khe Sanh had finished. In JUNE 68 Khe Sanh was evacuated. The Marines destroyed everything they could before they left. After Tet 68, the war was not the same. Political imperative overlaid military tactics and even military strategy. The outcome of individual battles became virtually irrelevant. The Media controlled the public perception of all military activities – including the public perception of the soldiers 14

15 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 13 JAN – 8 APR 68 In the period of the siege – 77 days – 24,000 tactical airstrikes were called, using USAF and Marine aircraft. 2700 “Arc Light” B52 missions were flown. 100,000 tons of bombs & napalm were dropped. 150,000 artillery rounds were fired. US casualties were 200 to 500 depending on how the count is taken, with 852 wounded. The NVA suffered 1600 dead by bodycount. Thousands were killed in the bombing and shelling – conservative estimates indicate something in the order of 10,000. 15

16 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT TODAY The old airstrip is now being developed into the main road of an industrial estate. The red earth and stunted undergrowth seem to tell of hard struggles in times past. Australian eucalypts have been planted as little else will grow. The surrounding hills show no scars of their past. 16

17 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT WHAT MADE KHE SANH “DECISIVE”?. The NVA never again tried to engage US forces in a major set-piece battle. The evidence is that the NVA wanted to take Khe Sanh as a major and perhaps decisive battle to end the US involvement in the war. Collecting 20,000 men to a set-piece battle would indicate this intention. This was timed to coincide with Tet 1968, which itself was supposed to trigger a massive “uprising” in the South - a series of city victories in the South would win the war for the North. The failure of Tet to trigger ANY uprising, or even to take and retain ANY single objective proved that the North was not fighting a civil war that was popular in the South. The failure and the loss of life at Khe Sanh proved that the NVA could not meet the US face-to-face in battle. The NVA never again tried to engage US forces in a major set-piece battle. The evidence is that the NVA wanted to take Khe Sanh as a major and perhaps decisive battle to end the US involvement in the war. Collecting 20,000 men to a set-piece battle would indicate this intention. This was timed to coincide with Tet 1968, which itself was supposed to trigger a massive “uprising” in the South - a series of city victories in the South would win the war for the North. The failure of Tet to trigger ANY uprising, or even to take and retain ANY single objective proved that the North was not fighting a civil war that was popular in the South. The failure and the loss of life at Khe Sanh proved that the NVA could not meet the US face-to-face in battle. WHAT HAPPENED AS A RESULT? Between Khe Sanh and Tet, the North was brought to the Peace talks. By 11 May, formal negotiations began in Paris between USA and North Viet Nam representatives. On 3 April, the North offered to “talk”. By 29 March, the NVA was withdrawing from Khe Sanh and only now realising that the Press was offering them “victory” from the jaws of defeat. By 24 Feb, Hue Citadel had been retaken. The NVA massacre was exposed, which stung the North. By 10 Feb, all of Tet was over except for the capture of Hue Citadel. Ongoing Press at Hue established the negativity of the civilian perception overseas. Tet started 30 Jan. The Western Press took fright and reacted negatively to the whole war, yet the North did not understand what had happened – they recognised Tet for the disaster it was. The Battle for Khe Sanh started 21 Jan. Between Khe Sanh and Tet, the North was brought to the Peace talks. By 11 May, formal negotiations began in Paris between USA and North Viet Nam representatives. On 3 April, the North offered to “talk”. By 29 March, the NVA was withdrawing from Khe Sanh, only now realising that the Press was offering them “victory” from the jaws of defeat. By 24 Feb, Hue Citadel had been retaken. The NVA massacre was exposed, which stung the North. By 10 Feb, all of Tet was over except for the capture of Hue Citadel. Ongoing Press at Hue set the negativity of the civilian perception overseas. Tet started 30 Jan. The Western Press took fright and reacted negatively to the whole war, yet the North did not understand what had happened – they saw Tet for the disaster it was. The Battle for Khe Sanh started 21 Jan. 17

18 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE 12 DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE THREE INDO-CHINA WARS presented by DAVE SABBEN MG 06 – Khe Sanh Questions?

19 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE FINE PRINT This Powerpoint show is copyright to Dave Sabben but is freely available for any non-profit use. It may be downloaded free from Dave’s website: www.sabben.comwww.sabben.com It was prepared for presentation to those who join his Decisive Battlefields and Long Tan Trek Tours of Viet Nam (see other panel for the “commercial”) as introductions for the various battles. Because the shows are live presentations, much more is in the narrative than is included in the text on the slides. The shows are intended to be introductions and overviews – not detailed expositions or analyses. Views and conclusions are the author’s and are not offered as the only possible or even as fully comprehensive views. Where possible, permissions have been obtained to use maps or photos but some have been used without specific permission. Copyright holders who want their material either not used or credited, please contact Dave Sabben at http://www.sabben.com/contact%20us.html Anyone wishing to make an anonymous donation towards the cost and time of putting this show together is invited to make a donation of any amount to (Australian) Westpac bank account BSB# 733 000, Account# 853 546 (branch = 360 Collins St, Melbourne), or (Australian) CBA bank account BSB# 063 550, Account# 1024 7640 (branch = Hampton, Victoria), either account in the name of David Sabben. If passing this slide show to others, please don’t remove this slide. THE “COMMERCIAL” As at 2011, Dave Sabben leads one tour per year (second half of October) to visit some of the areas of Australian/ANZAC operations of 1966-1971. The highlight of these tours is to walk the Long Tan battlefield with Dave (a platoon Commander in that battle). The walk takes about 4 hours – about the time of the battle – so the group goes to all the key locations of the battle and hears about what happened pretty much in “real time”. For further enquiry into these tours, please visit: http://www.sabben.com/longtantrek/ and select VN%20Long%20Tan%20Trek%20Tours.html orVN%20Long%20Tan%20Trek%20Tours.html VN%20Decisive%20Battlefields%20Tours.html An optional extension to the Long Tan Trek Tour takes in the main US battles of northern South Viet Nam including Da Nang, Hue, the DMZ (including Khe Sanh) and the A Shau Valley (Hamburger Hill), then visits both Hanoi (‘Hanoi Hilton’, War Museum) and the Dien Bien Phu valley (both Viet Minh and French positions). As well as the once –a-year-in-October tours, Dave can arrange a similar tour at any time of year for a group of 20 or more. Dates, durations, standards of accommodation, inclusions etc will be all your call. Please contact Dave (with numbers and preferences) at http://www.sabben.com/contact%20us.html Note that these are “battlefield-oriented” tours – they do NOT go to the popular tourist sites. “Tourist” tours can be added before or after. If passing this slide show to others, please don’t remove this slide. PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS SLIDE

20 THE NVA VIEW DEVELOPED LATER – SPOT THE “ODDETIES” Khe Sanh was the biggest ruse of the war. General William Westmoreland was convinced that the Vietnamese Communists would attempt another Dien Bien Phu against the garrison of six thousand Marines he had placed as bait at this forlorn spot in the far northwest corner of South Vietnam. When they did, he was going to squash them in triumph. But, as explained by General Hoang Phuong, the Vietnamese chief of military history, whom I met in Hanoi after the war, "General Westmoreland fell into a strategic ambush." The Vietnamese gave every appearance of threatening Khe Sanh, surrounding the place with thousands of troops and shelling the base relentlessly. No serious attempt to seize the Marine base ever occurred. The Vietnamese purpose was to distract Westmoreland's attention from their preparations for the real Dien Bien Phu of the American war, the surprise nationwide offensive at Tet, the lunar New Year holiday, in January 1968, which broke the will of the Johnson administration and of the American public to continue to prosecute the conflict. The ruse succeeded completely. On the first morning of the Tet offensive, Westmoreland announced that the panorama of attacks across South Vietnam, including an assault on the U.S. embassy in the middle of Saigon, was merely a diversion from an intended main thrust at Khe Sanh and across the demilitarized zone. Yet the credulity of the commanding general cannot detract from the staunchness of the Marines who held Khe Sanh, at the cost of 205 of their comrades, and the gallantry of the aviators who kept them supplied with food and ammunition. Not remote No such thing Tried & failed Declare peace & attack… Was US reaction planned? Effort for return? Look at timings 19


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