American Bases Overrun in Vietnam
Soon after American combat troops arrived in Vietnam, a strategy debate began. One faction wanted American combat forces to only protect large cities and dispatch units to rural areas only when enemy forces converged to battle local forces. American aid would focus on improving the economic infrastructure and local militia forces. Another faction favored securing all of southern Vietnam with hundreds of American bases. This “search and destroy” strategy was selected because most American Generals favored offensive operations. Yet each base required clean water, electricity, security, and frequent resupply, which required guarding bridges, road mine clearing, weekly convoys and helicopter runs. This was expensive, required much manpower, left forces dispersed, provided ample targets for the enemy, and alienated the population with frequent combat operations that caused much death and destruction.
Small bases with artillery covered their area and supported adjacent bases to rain heavy firepower upon the enemy within minutes. These firebases were effective and hundreds of attacks were repelled. However, bases were vulnerable to surprise attacks so constant patrolling was required around each base. This allowed enemy forces inflict casualties with mines and ambushes. In several cases, the enemy quickly amassed forces who overran American bases.
“Marine Alternative to Search and Destroy”; Connatix; HistoryNet; https://www.historynet.com/marine-alternative-to-search-and-destroy.htm
“Lost Battles of the Vietnam War”; Carlton Meyer; G2mil; 2013; https://www.g2mil.com/lost_vietnam.htm
Related Tale: “The Illusion of South Vietnam”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B9BM8OTSB0&t=0s
Related Tale: “Ten Battles Americans Lost in Vietnam”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g75i4S19P14&t=0s
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