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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 presented by DAVE SABBEN MG 07 – Tet 1968 / Hue Jan – Feb 1968
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT BACKGROUND 1 Hue is the largest city in the north of South Viet Nam and the third-largest city in the South. It has a special place in the culture of all of Viet Nam since it was the feudal capital from 1802 to 1945 under the Nguyen Dynasty. It had been spared from the War as a mark of respect by both sides – at least, until Tet 1968. BACKGROUND 2 When the US forces arrived in 1965, they landed at Da Nang to protect the deep-sea and air ports, thereby releasing ARVN troops to fight. Not long after, their defence tasks were extended south to Chu Lai and north to Phu Bai, both to protect military installations. There were no American combat troops in Hue – only US Advisors to the ARVN 1 st Division, HeadQuartered in Hue. 2
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT BACKGROUND 2 When the US forces arrived in 1965, they landed at Da Nang to protect the deep-sea and air ports, thereby releasing ARVN troops to fight. Not long after, their defence tasks were extended south to Chu Lai and north to Phu Bai, both to protect military installations. There were no American combat troops in Hue – only US Advisors to the ARVN 1 st Division, HeadQuartered in Hue. BACKGROUND 3 The ARVN HQ was located in the northern corner of the Citadel (off the map). The Citadel (Old City) was densely packed with narrow streets and small houses. The US Advisers, and all the larger buildings that were necessary for a major city were located south of the Perfume River, in the New City, where there were tree-lined streets and plenty of space. 3
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT BACKGROUND 4 Here’s a closer look at the New City. The landmarks to be noted are: 7 6 1 2 3 4 5 7 6 1 2 3 4 5 The US Advisers in the MACV Compound; 8 8 The Police Station; Hue University; The Treasury; The Joan of Arc School and Church; The Post Office; The Provincial Hospital; The Province Administration HQ; The Power Station; 9 9 This is the situation in early 1968 4
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT BACKGROUND – The War to 1968 The North restarted guerrilla insurgency in the South as early as 1959. Following Mao’s “rules”, they concentrated on building the resistance infrastructure at the village and hamlet level, building their influence and forces but not engaging in overt hostilities – that came in the early 60s. America and the ANZACs committed advisors in 1962 and troops in 1965. 5 Since that time, the war had not been going well for the North. They were winning battles against the ARVN but were losing badly against the USA and Allies. They had taken many casualties and their infiltration routes were being blocked. On the other hand, the ARVN were ineffective and the North knew that the US and Allied public were not 100% supportive of the war. By late 1967, it was time for the North to attempt a decisive showdown…..
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE PLAN The North had to play their strengths – they were spread uniformly in small groups around the whole country, were indistinguishable from the Southerners to the Allies and could plan on retaining the element of surprise. If they could trigger an uprising, the South would rally to their cause. And all they needed to do to get rid of the US was to show that the US couldn’t save the South. Both aims were political, but they would both need to be executed by the military. 6 To trigger the uprising, the civilians in the South needed to see things happen in their own locale – not just hear the news. A plan was drawn up to hit as many outposts, FSBs, garrisons and civil centres as possible – all at once. It would take ALL the VC resources they had. The best timing would be Tet – the national New Year, when troops would be on leave and alert levels lowered. They proposed a Tet truce which was accepted.
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 30 JANUARY 1968 The NVA and VC mingled in the holiday crowds, bringing weapons and explosives into the towns while the cease-fire relaxed the vigilance. At midnight 30 Jan, three major cities were attacked – probably a case of getting the date wrong. At midnight 31 Jan, the rest were hit: 36 of 44 Province capitals; 5 of 6 autonomous cities; 64 of 242 District capitals; And hundreds of military targets. An estimated 84,000 troops committed. 7 The scale, audacity and desperation surprised everyone – yet the military reaction was swift. By 5 Feb all but one of more than 100 cities had been secured. The odd one out was Hue. In every other case, the VC had been told to take and hold the targets and await the NVA support. In every case, the NVA failed to arrive and the VC were caught in conventional battle. They were decimated, and never recovered. The information collected at Tet 68 provided the targets for the subsequent “Phoenix Program”.
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT SAIGON and the INITIAL REACTION On 1 Feb, Saigon awoke to gunfire in the streets. The Press Corps did not understand the nature of guerrilla warfare (versus front lines as in WW2 and Korea) and took fright. “How could we be winning if there are VC active in downtown Saigon?” 8 Their political and civilian preconceptions had been challenged, and they wanted an instant fix. It was shock rather than logic, but they had their deadlines and they had to file their stories.… So the stories went out – incorrect, exaggerated, even hysterical – and were unquestioningly accepted by an already anti-war media. It did not matter that the VC took no ground, held no objective, and inflicted minimal military damage. It really didn’t matter to the US viewing public that hundreds of VC had entered Saigon or that thousands of people were streaming away from their homes and the fighting. What mattered was that 19 VC got into the US Embassy compound – technically US soil… see next slide…
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT On the lunar new year, in 1968, the Viet Cong… …took control of the US embassy in Saigon. Although the Viet Cong were pushed back out, the US military morale was lost. 19 suicide sappers broke into the compound of the American Embassy. Walter Cronkite, America's most respected journalist at that time, suggested that America wasn't winning the war: an inaccurate, statement based on a 30-sec. TV grab. The figures show otherwise. However it went live to millions and created the first significant crack in President Johnson's belief that he could win both the war and the coming 1968 re-election. …the U.S. embassy itself was raided by a VC suicide bomber team that almost reached the interior of the building… From the North Vietnamese perspective, the… …battle was largely a failure but they did manage to temporarily seize the US Embassy in Saigon. THE “NEWS”THE TRUTH THE RESULT 19 VC suicide sappers in civilian clothes broke into the compound of the American Embassy, killing 5 US soldiers and 2 civilians. They failed to enter the Embassy. One VC entered the residence and was shot dead. The others all died in the Embassy courtyard. 9
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT (1) The media had virtually unrestricted access to the war zone but were preconditioned to expect front lines as in WW2 & Korea, where most of them had “earned their accreditation”. Apart from a handful of reporters, the bulk of the U.S. Press Corps in Vietnam was anti-war. The self-hating American became a well-known syndrome. The daily afternoon military briefing was known as the "Five O'Clock Follies”. This was followed by the civilian briefing that was largely ignored by the war correspondents. Yet this is where one found out about the latest Vietcong atrocity -- such as wiping out an entire village to cower neighbouring villages into total compliance. Westmoreland’s “Five O'Clock Follies”. THE MEDIA Many factors influenced the Press Corps to react with fright rather than with logic: (2)Images “normal” to a soldier were considered “shocking” to a civilian – combat, wounded, corpses… Very few reporters had trained with the military or understood tactical constraints. (3)The media concentrated on the dramatic image rather than accurate reporting. That’s why the “Loan execution” gained notoriety – the image was dramatic: who cared about the facts? (4)Most remained in safe cities and reported from sanitised daily briefings. When the war came to them and their own hotel, they freaked out. (5) Civilians often struggled with the exactness of military terminology. When Loan shot a VC officer out of uniform in a city under Martial Law after he murdered a senior police officer, the Press reported merely “a VC suspect”. 10
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE EXCEPTION – HUE The NVA plan was to take the Palace, airstrip and public buildings, isolate the ARVN HQ and destroy the MACV Compound. They allocated a whole NVA Division (10,000 soldiers) to the job. 11 All four objectives were symbolical – mastery over the US and ARVN and ownership of Vietnamese history and culture. There was no military value in any of the targets. The ARVN retained just a Company of about 100 soldiers in the Citadel – the rest of the troops were deployed outside the city. MACV had a guard contingent but no combat troops.
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 33 7 6 2 4 5 8 9 7 6 1 2 4 5 8 1 The nearest US base was at Phu Bai, some 8 miles south down Route 1. It was base to two Marine Regiments – 1 st and 5 th – each of three Battalions and most deployed between Phu Bai and Da Nang and in the hills inland. The MACV commander called for troops. A/1/1 (A Coy of 1 st Bn of 1 st Regt) was sent up Route 1 and into Hue from the south. Lacking a street map of the city, they were able to rip a framed roadmap off a service station wall and they used that for the initial advance. The buildings South of the river were quickly taken – few were even guarded. Route 1 was severed. By dawn, the only two enclaves holding out were the ARVN HQ and MACV. THE TIMELINE – HUE 0340hrs, 31 Jan – Under a rocket barrage, the NVA crossed the Perfume River and entered the Citadel. They took it with little resistance. It was about three square miles and was surrounded by a moat and walls 20’ high and from 50’ to 200’ thick. They raised the NVA flag on the Palace flagpole, visible from across the river. 12 9
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 7 6 1 2 3 4 5 8 9 By 1030hrs, G/2/5, sent to reinforce A/1/1, linked up and the two units advanced. Defeating an NVA ambush, they arrived at the MACV Compound at 1500hrs. THE TIMELINE – HUE By 0830hrs, they were across the Phu Cam Canal and in heavy contact. The fighting got even heavier as they approached the river. 1 Feb: after defending the Compound overnight, the Marines took the south end of the Nguyen Hoang Bridge, converting the nearby park into an LZ. G/2/5 crossed the bridge but not the moat. Off the north end of the bridge the streets were narrow, the fighting was house-to-house. After many casualties, G/2/5 re-crossed the bridge. The NVA blew the bridge that night. 2-3 Feb: ARVN reinforcements fought through from the north to the ARVN HQ, but the NVA still controlled the Citadel. The fighting was along the streets, house by house This is Tran Cao Van Street – then and now. 1968 Today 13 F and H Companies of 2/5 joined G Coy and all three started to clear the new city along the riverside, with A/1/1 advancing on their left (south) flank to the Phu Cam Canal.
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT It was images like these that the US public didn’t want to see – US casualties in an impossible combat situation. 14
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT It was images like these that the US public didn’t want to see – US casualties in an impossible combat situation. 15
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT It was images like these that the US public didn’t want to see – US casualties in an impossible combat situation. 16
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT It was images like these that the US public didn’t want to see – US casualties in an impossible combat situation. 17
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT It was images like these that the US public didn’t want to see – US casualties in an impossible combat situation. 18
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT It was images like these that the US public didn’t want to see – US casualties in an impossible combat situation. 19
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE TIMELINE – HUE 3 Feb: Under poor weather, low cloud, and orders to limit damage to the city, the marines advanced with no airstrike or artillery support. They had 11 blocks to clear – to the confluence of the Canal with the River. 7 6 1 2 3 4 5 8 9 20 Six 106mm RCLs on an Ontos 2/5 took the Treasury building after 24 hours of heavy contact, and 1/1 took the Joan of Arc School and Church. On the next day – 4 Feb – they took the University, the Hospital and other buildings, with 1/1 clearing the Church of the Redemptress. Fighting was building by building, room by room. The fighting down Tran Cao Van Street was much photographed and proved typical. The Marines had to quickly learn the art of urban warfare. Their support weapons were on the roads with them – M-48 tanks with 90mm guns, 106mm RCLs on Ontos, 81mm Mortars, CS Gas grenades… Small groups took rooms with grenades and rifles. It was tough fighting, at the same time caring for civilians and refugees. 3 4 7 2 5 THEN……and NOW
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE TIMELINE – HUE 5 Feb: On the fifth straight day of fighting, 2/5 took the Thua Thien Provincial capital buildings. This proved decisive – after this, NVA resolve seemed to weaken considerably. 21 7 6 1 2 3 4 5 8 9 3 4 7 2 5 By now, 1 st Cavalry and 101 st Airborne were approaching Hue from the West. 6-10 Feb: The ARVN were counter-attacking but were stalled among the narrow streets of the Citadel. There had been an agreement that due to the cultural significance of the Citadel, it would be an ARVN responsibility and there would be no air or artillery strikes. This was making the ARVN task impossible. On the 10 th, the ARVN asked for US help. 1/5 was given. 11 Feb: 2/5 reached the confluence and paused to reorganise and mop up remaining resistance. B/1/5 flew into the ARVN HQ and were joined by A & C/1/5 by boat on the next day. 12-14 Feb: 1/5 fought down the East wall of the Citadel – once again with narrow streets, no air or artillery and the same house-to-house combat as had been experienced on the South bank. 6 8
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Bridges and Gate Towers into the Citadel 22
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE TIMELINE – HUE 15 Feb: The South bank was taken but mopping up operations would take the rest of the month. 1 9 3 4 7 2 5 6 8 9 Finally, air and artillery restrictions were removed, and 1/5 advanced more than 100 yards, but with heavy destruction. D/1/5 was brought in to take the Eastern wall tower. Not only was fighting still room-by-room – it often became hand-to-hand. The NVA were fanatical in their resistance – preferring to die rather than retire. This meant more destruction to the rooms & buildings, and high casualties. 16-23 Feb: A week of heavy fighting eventually breached the gate towers and secured up to the outer perimeter of the Palace. Inside, the grounds were a network of trenches and firing positions. 1 St Cav and 2/5 & 3/5 Marines were also closing in on the Palace. The NVA supply lines were now cut – they had no where to retreat to. This would be a final stand. 23
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT The devastation. 24
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT The devastation. Note tank in left foreground… 25
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE TIMELINE – HUE 24 Feb: The US was poised for the final battle. But it was stopped. It was deemed politically expedient to have the ARVN “Black Panther” Company liberate the Palace. The NVA flag was replaced with the RVN flag. Mopping up took to 29 Feb (it was a Leap Year). THE COMBAT OUTCOME 10,000 homes were destroyed / badly damaged. 116,000 of 140,000 population were refugees. Up to 5000 civilians were missing, subsequently found to have been systematically murdered. A further 3000 from outside Hue were also dead. The NVA lost 5113 by body count, with estimates up to 8000 plus unknown wounded. The ARVN lost 384 KIA and about 2000 WIA. The US lost 147 KIA and 857 WIA. In military terms it was a difficult victory – a magnificent feat of arms. Politically, it fell flat and was seen (by the media and therefore by the civilians) as a defeat. Why? The Citadel 26
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE POLITICAL OUTCOME The NVA and VC lost about 30,000 fighters in Tet 1968. But the Allies lost more – they lost the will to fight. Since 1965 they had never lost a battle, had forced the NVA out of many border enclaves and denied the NVA the use of trails, camps and munitions areas. Yet the North’s mindless drive for ultimate victory despite the human cost showed the Allies that there would be no final victory without extending the US Draft, invading Laos, Cambodia and the North, the real likelihood of direct confrontation with at least China and maybe Russia as well. And in any of these cases, more US bodycount. It was a proposal to which no Allied leader would agree. Once the North had that offered to them by the media in the form of grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat, they capitalised on it. They made the war become about peoples’ attitudes rather than the outcome of battles. They made military victory irrelevant by being prepared to sacrifice any number of their own fighters. It was a callousness the West could not accept. 27
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE START OF THE END After Tet 68, the last thing the US people wanted was more bad news. But only 2 weeks later – 16 March – came My Lai. 28 On 31 March, President Johnson used a TV broadcast to restrict bombing of the North and advise he would not stand for re-election. The Peace Talks were given a greater emphasis. On 5 Nov – Johnson left office and Nixon took over. His strategy was to foster the Peace Talks. He did this by persuading China and the Soviets to back the Peace Talks in exchange for US technology and Arms Control Agreements.
THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 29
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 07 – Tet 1968 / Hue Questions?
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 green 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
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