Chiến trường Việt Nam - P4: Sự thử thách trong vùng tam giác sắt


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Transcript:
BATTLEFIELD VIETNAM
Showdown in the Iron Triangle
For the Americans in South Vietnam...
1966 was to be a year of dramatic expansion.
U.S. forces were planned to double to just under 430,000 men.
While the buildup was going on...
...the priority was to secure key parts of the country.
By far the most important was the capital, Saigon.
Saigon was a teeming city of 2 million people.
It was the seat of the South Vietnamese government...
and the location of South Vietnamese and American military headquarters.
Above all, Saigon was the symbol of the South's independence...
...from the communist North.
For the commanders of the Vietcong guerrillas,...
...the capital was the ultimate prize.
The tens of thousands of Vietcong based within 50 miles of Saigon...
...were already drawing in noose tight around the city.
Powerful guerrilla units were pushing...
...right up to Saigon doorstep.
In the countryside around the city, traditional Vietcong base areas...
...had all the facilities that combat forces needed to prepare their attacks.
Since American Infantry units had first arrived, they had been trying...
...to disrupt the guerrilla's activities around the capital.
On January 8th 1966, they launched the most ambitious sweep yet.
Operation Crimp deployed 8,000 troops...
making it the biggest American operation of the war so far.
Its aim was to capture the Vietcong's headquarters for the whole Saigon area.
The Vietcong's headquarters for Saigon was believed to be...
...somewhere in the Cu Chi district, the communist stronghold...
...barely 20 miles from the capital.
The attack would be launched by the American 173rd airborne brigade...
...a battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment,...
...and a brigade of the 1st infantry division.
North of Cu Chi town was the disused Fil Hol rubber plantation...
...and the forested area the Americans called the Ho Bo woods.
Beneath the whole district ran the massive Cu Chi tunnel complex...
...about which the Americans still knew almost nothing.
In the tunnels were the Vietcong's Cu Chi military headquarters,...
...a signals intelligence unit, two hospitals,...
...the Saigon political office...
...and the Saigon regional military headquarters,...
...the one the Americans were looking for.
As with every American search and destroy sweep, Operation Crimp began...
...with massive air strikes and artillery bombardments.
NLF agents had long before warned that a big American operation was coming.
Guerrilla commanders had already moved...
...several thousand troops out of the Cu Chi area.
Only a thousand local guerrillas were left behind,...
...mostly inexperienced teenagers.
But with the tunnels to fight from, they were confident...
...they could inflict serious casualties to the Americans.
Right from the start, as the Americans attacked into the Ho Bo woods,...
...they faced rifle fire, grenades and booby traps.
NLF snipers opened up from hidden firing positions...
...and within seconds vanished back into their tunnels.
The Americans hardly ever saw the enemy who was firing at them.
As the days went on the Americans grew ever more frustrated and demoralized.
Dozens of men were killed or injured.
Every path seemed to lead to a trap.
Only slowly did units began to discover trenches and bunkers.
They also found a handful of tunnel entrances.
Still no one had any idea of the sheer scale...
...of the complex beneath their feet.
Although the Cu Chi guerrillas had suffered casualties...
...they had achieved their main objective.
The tunnel complex and headquarters had survived virtually intact...
...as had the whole Vietcong organization in the area.
In late January 1966 only a few days after the end of Operation Crimp,...
...troops of the 25th Infantry division arrived at Cu Chi.
Their orders were to secure the area for the 25th's main base.
The Americans succeeded in pushing out of perimeter...
...using every ounce of firepower they could muster.
But from the first day they faced...
...constant harassing attacks from the Cu Chi guerrillas.
For months, the 25th Infantry Division was plagued...
...by mysterious gun and grenade incidents inside its camp.
Slowly, to the horror of the Americans, it was discovered...
...they came from tunnels dug under the base itself.
They were eventually found and sealed.
But the main tunnel complex, only a few miles away,...
...would keep its secrets for years to come.
SPRING OFFENSIVE
In February 1966, the American 1st Infantry Division mounted...
...four big Search and Destroy operations just North of Saigon.
The result was disappointing.
There were clashes with units from two Vietcong regiments,...
...but there were no major battles.
What the First's commanders wanted was a set piece fight...
...with the most powerful and dangerous enemy force in the region,...
...the 9th Vietcong Division.
The 9th was made up of veteran regiments and was constantly on the move.
The division was now poised to launch its spring offensive.
The communist leadership had ordered the Vietcong to avoid...
...head-on clashes with the Americans unless the odds were very favorable.
But NLF leaders still meant to fight aggressively.
General Thanh, the energetic commander of the NLF,...
...strongly believed that the soldier was more important than his weapons.
Thanh was certain that what the troops of the 9th lacked in hardware...
...they would make up for in revolutionary zeal.
From the 9th's divisions bases in War Zone C, two regiments...
...headed into the Vietcong strongholds of the Iron Triangle and War zone D.
At the same time, the 2nd brigade of the American 1st division...
...was pushing into War Zone C,...
...and the 3rd brigade was moving into the Iron Triangle.
The first clash came on March 5th 1966,...
...when the whole 272nd regiment attacked a battalion...
...of the 3rd brigade at Lo Ke.
Intense U.S. air and artillery strikes drove off the attackers.
Two days later, the American 1st brigade...
...with a battalion of the 273rd Airborne, swept into Warzone D.
An entire Vietcong Regiment attacked the Airborne's positions.
Again, devastating U.S. Artillery fire turned back the assault.
In the March battles in the Iron Triangle and Warzone D,...
...skillfully directed American fire power had averted disaster.
Hundreds of Vietcong had been killed by artillery and air strikes.
However, to the intense frustration of U.S. commanders,...
...after the fights, the Vietcong regiments had simply melted away.
During the weeks that followed, the Americans kept up the tempo...
...of Search and Destroy operations in front of Saigon.
Commanders were determined to make contact with the enemy.
In late April, they launched a major operation into War Zone C...
...to try and find the Vietcong 9th division.
Operation Birmingham lasted for three weeks.
More than 5,000 American troops of the 1st Infantry Division took part.
They were backed by huge numbers of helicopters and armored vehicles.
Although there were hundreds of vicious small scale actions...
...fought by platoons and squads on both sides,...
...the big battles the Americans hoped for, never did materialize.
In three weeks only 100 Vietcong were killed.
Most disturbing of all for American commanders,...
...most of the fighting that had happened, had been started by the Vietcong...
...at the time and place they chose.
TACTICS
From the start, the Vietnamese had followed the seven principles...
...of guerrilla warfare laid down by the Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung.
To these, General Giap had added four more steps:
if the enemy advances, we retreat.
If he holds, we harass.
If he avoids battle, we attack.
If he retreats, we follow.
Almost every Search and Destroy operation that the Americans had launched...
...had been met with Giap's tactics.
The places the Americans were most likely to land their helicopters...
...were set up for ambushes.
Trails were quickly booby trapped and mined...
...and snipers left in place.
If the Americans did stumble onto a big NLF unit the chances were...
...it was occupying prepared fortifications with tunnels, bunkers and trenches.
It was when the Americans set up a defensive perimeter for the night...
...or created artillery fire bases, as they did during every operation...
...that the Vietcong would attack in strength.
Always the guerrillas had a plan for breaking off the battle...
...if the opposition got too tough.
At first, American tactics had been totally unsuited...
...to the long witted, skilled guerrilla enemy.
With hard won experience that was changing.
Commanders learned that helicopter landings had to be fast and aggressive.
Sergeants told their men not to bunch up but to stay spread out,...
...otherwise a machine gun or a mortar round could kill several men at once.
When camp was made, perimeter defenses had to be strong...
.. with clear fields of fire all around.
Above all, American soldiers learned they had to be vigilant at all times.
ROUTE 13
By mid 1966 the U.S. commander, General Westmoreland...
...was getting more and more impatient.
His whole strategy depended on causing the enemy...
...to lose men and equipment faster than they could be replaced.
For that, Westmoreland needed big battles.
He ordered the 1st Division to make...
...more substantial contact with the Vietcong.
Most of the battles that did happen were started...
...not by the Americans, but by the NLF's 9th Division.
Route 13, linking Saigon to the Cambodian border,...
...was the site for major ambushes.
In some, the guerrilla struck with 1,000 troops at a time.
In one attack after another on route 13,...
...U.S. tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed.
On June 30th 1966, a major battle nearly ended...
...in complete disaster for the Americans.
It was fiercely effective air and artillery support that saved the day.
Soon after the battles the whole NLF 9th division...
...moved back into its most impenetrable base areas.
Some crossed over into Cambodia.
There, General Thanh meant to rebuild the division...
...for a new campaign in November, the start of a new dry season.
THE HIGHLANDS
In the past year, the strength of the North Vietnamese regular army...
...inside the South, had risen to upwards of 60,000 men.
Of these 10,000 were concentrated in the remote central highlands.
It was this area that General Giap, the North Vietnamese Army commander...
...saw as a killing zone, a battlefield on which enormous casualties...
...could be inflicted on the enemy.
Giap believed that the forests and mountains of the central highlands...
...were specially well suited to big military operations.
Whole regiments could be hidden and the Highlands weather...
...could be relied on to disrupt American air power.
The troops would also be close to supplies and reinforcements...
...across the Cambodian border.
As fighting units, the NVA were tough,...
...well disciplined and well trained.
For months they had been constantly on the offensive.
Their main target was the South Vietnamese Army.
But isolated American Special Forces camps were also hit.
Increasingly, attacks were carried out by units up to 2,000 strong.
The North Vietnamese Army units in the Central Highlands of Vietnam
were part of a strategy meant to keep the Americans off-balance.
There were powerful NVA divisions on the Demilitarized Zone...
...separating North and South Vietnam.
And there were the NLF regiments opposite Saigon.
Communist forces could present the Americans with a challenge...
...in any of the three areas, and force them to react.
By the middle of 1966, North Vietnamese units crossing the Demilitarized Zone...
...had successfully drawn the US marines North.
In the highlands, the NVA 24th regiment...
...had engaged elements of the 101st Airborne Division.
The 1st NVA division had pulled a U.S. Infantry brigade...
...and the 1st Air Cavalry towards the Cambodian border.
The Americans in the Central Highlands did succeed...
...in inflicting thousands of casualties on the North Vietnamese Army.
But in some of the most arduous fighting country in Vietnam...
...the Americans found it impossible to trap large enemy units.
Time after time they succeeded in slipping through the net.
Although the American Military were killing 5 North Vietnamese soldiers...
...for every one of their own losses,...
...Northern commanders were still confident.
General Giap was sure that his forces could stay on the offensive...
...and take heavy casualties as long as there were no dramatic defeats.
The manpower potential of North Vietnam had barely been tapped.
AREA WAR
From the start of its war in Vietnam...
...the U.S. Army had found the conflict to be unlike any other.
As Vietcong attacks proved every day, there was no front line.
Each side controlled only the territory...
...immediately around its positions or its bases.
The Army was calling it Area War.
Area War meant that the roads linking U.S. bases to other units...
...and to their supply depots were never completely secure.
Vietcong strategy was to try and isolate American forces...
...and to pin down large numbers of U.S. troops on base and road defense.
That way there would be fewer men available for offensive operations.
The supply lifelines for the 25th and 1st U.S. Infantry Divisions...
...were the roads linking their major bases to Saigon,...
...Bien Hoa airbase,...
...and Long Binh, the biggest supply depot in Vietnam.
The roads were constantly patrolled by armored vehicles and aircraft.
In August 1966 the 25th Division was tasked with clearing the way...
...for a new American unit, the 196th light infantry brigade.
The 196th was to be based at Tay Ninh to secure route 22,...
...running through the NLF base area of Warzone C.
By October 1966, the NLF 9th Division had almost recovered...
...from the battles of the previous July.
Its losses in men and equipment had been replaced by supplies and reinforcements...
...sent down the Ho Chi Minh trail from Nort Vietnam.
With the dry season coming, the 9th was busy in Warzone C...
...preparing for its next offensive.
The renewed activity of the 9th division...
...did not pass unnoticed by the Americans.
Special Forces units mounted an intense reconaissance effort...
...deep inside Vietcong territory.
The reports they brought back seemed to show...
...that the 9th's next target might be the Special Forces' own base camp,...
...Northeast of Tay Ninh city.
American commanders were determined to disrupt the Vietcong's plans.
The 196th Brigade was ordered to mount aggressive Search and Destroy sweeps...
...near the Special Forces' camp area.
The sweeps starting on September 14th 1966...
...were codenamed Operation Attleboro.
Operation Attleboro was launched by the 196th Light Infantry Brigade,...
...together with 22,000 South Vietnamese soldiers...
...and G.I.'s from the 1st, 4th and 25th Infantry Divisions.
Almost at once, huge supply caches belonging to the NLF's 9th Division...
...were found by the Americans south of the Michelin rubber plantation.
It was believed the NLF were somewhere between the plantation...
...and the American Special Forces base at Suoi Da.
While one battalion made a helicopter landing,...
...the other battalions pushed towards it on foot.
When the Landing Zone was ambushed...
...both sides sent thousands of reinforcements rushing to the area.
By the following day, full scale battles were raging.
In the first days of Operation Attleboro...
...almost every fresh American unit sent in was ambushed.
Nor were the Americans safe behind the defensive perimeters...
...of their night time camps.
NLF units stroke with thousands of men at a time...
...and came close to wiping out whole American formations.
It was intense air and artillery support that, in the end,
...as in so many battles, saved the Americans from disaster.
Even then, many of the NLF battalions were attacking out of bunkers,...
...trench lines and tunnels and were sometimes able...
...to withstand the most punishing bombardments.
The inexperience of the 196th was also telling.
Tactical coordination between the brigade's units was poor.
Although the situation was desperate,...
...American commanders in Saigon also saw a major opportunity.
Attleboro might be a chance to fight the kind big battle they had been looking for.
The 1st Infantry Division raised two brigades to the area...
...and unit after unit was piled on.
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, only just arrived in Vietnam,...
...was also thrown into the battle.
Within days there were 22,000 American troops in the Attleboro area.
The massive buildup of American forces was the NLF's cue to disengage.
Although fierce firefights continued wherever the two sides came into contact,...
...the 9th division began to withdraw.
Its big units broke down into smaller groups and slipped away...
...towards Cambodia where the Americans were forbidden to follow.
In Operation Attleboro, the Americans had failed to destroy...
...the 9th division in an all out battle.
On the other hand, in six weeks, more than 1,000 NLF had been killed...
...for the loss of 155 American dead, and fewer than 800 wounded.
U.S. troops had captured a massive amount of enemy stores and documents...
...and Vietcong plans for the coming months had been badly disrupted.
CEDAR FALLS
By the end of 1966 American forces in Vietnam...
...had grown to 385,000 men,...
...plus another 60,000 sailors off Vietnam shores.
As the force levels had risen, so too had the casualties.
The year had seen more than 6,000 Americans killed and 30,000 wounded.
The biggest problem for American commanders was...
...that their time table was slipping badly.
By now, the Vietcong should be losing men faster than they could be replaced.
General Westmoreland had to concede that U.S. forces...
...had come nowhere near achieving that goal.
An estimated 61,000 Vietcong had been killed in the past year...
...yet their troops had gone up to more than 280,000.
Part of the problem was that the American bombing campaign...
...against North Vietnam and its supply routes to the South were still failing.
More men and materials were reaching the guerrillas than ever before.
The Vietcong had also stepped up the recruiting.
There was one cause for optimism on the American side:
Operation Attleboro had seemed to show the Vietcong would fight...
...if their base areas were threatened.
The latest plan was to go back into War Zone C...
...with even greater forces.
But first, the Americans wanted to solve an immediate problem.
The districts just in front of Saigon, the Iron Triangle and Cu Chi,...
...were still major Vietcong strongholds.
The American plan was to attack into the Iron Triangle...
...with more than two divisions.
The guerrillas would be trapped in their own base areas and anihilated.
At the same time another attempt would be made...
...to capture the Vietcong Saigon Military Headquarters.
The whole area would then be systematically destroyed.
Before the attack American aircraft dropped 20,000 leaflets...
...telling the population to leave at once.
The Iron Triangle was an area of 60 square miles...
...lying between the Saigon river and route 13,...
...with the village of Ben Suc on its western side.
A major Vietcong tunnel complex ran under the whole district.
The 272th Regiment of the NLF was operating there...
...along with two battalions of NLF main force,...
...two independent NLF battalions and the Fil Hol battalion.
But on the eve of the American offensive, most troops were withdrawn.
Only local NLF companies were left to defend important installations.
The American plan for Operation Cedar Falls...
...was that the 25th Infantry Division and other units...
...would occupy blocking positions on the western side of the Saigon river...
...forming an anvil.
The 1st Division and the 173rd airborne brigade would assault...
...from the North and the East,...
...with a battalion landing at the village of Ben Suc.
Meanwhile, the 11th armored cavalry regiment would act as the hammer...
...smashing through the center of the triangle.
Operation Cedar Falls opened with 4 days of attacks by B-52 bombers.
Artillery and air strikes followed,
and a wall of fire was laid down to cut off the NLF's retreat.
On January 8th 1967, 16,000 U.S. ...
...and 14,000 South Vietnamese Army troops...
...moved out of their bases in fleets of helicopters...
...armored personnel carriers, trucks and boats.
In the first hours of Operation Cedar Falls...
...the village of Ben Suc had been captured with barely a shot fired.
The local company of 100 NLF fighters...
...had been taken completely by surprise.
As the Village's 6,000 inhabitants were rounded out for interrogation...
...bulldozers began to level every building in sight.
The American Operation to smash the Iron Triangle...
...lasted 19 days with only local Vietcong left to defend the area...
...and most of those hidden in tunnels, there was almost no heavy fighting.
American losses were 72 killed and 337 wounded...
...mostly to snipers and booby traps.
In Ben Suc and in the Thanh Dien forest...
...the Americans uncovered dozens of tunnel entrances.
By now, they were better prepared.
Specialists known as 'tunnel rats' had trained...
...to go down tunnels and explore.
In the crammed spaces underground...
...they faced gunfire, booby traps, and mines.
The problem was there were only a handful of tunnel rats...
... and the complexes were enormous.
Whenever tunnels were found,...
...the Americans made determined efforts to destroy them.
Demolition charges, explosive gas, and flooding were all tried.
Riot control agents were pumped in...
...to try and force the Vietcong to come out.
Nothing really worked. The tunnels were designed...
...so that neither gas nor water could penetrate far.
The Americans had discovered only a small number...
...of the Vietcong installations hidden in the Iron Triangle.
But those they did find yielded astonishing quantities of material.
There was enough rice to feed 13,000 guerrillas for a year,...
...along with over 7,000 uniforms,...
...a huge underground hospital...
...and over a ton of medicine.
Half a million documents were discovered,...
...including detailed maps of airbases,...
...and the private addresses of Americans in Saigon.
Some U.S. commanders immediately hailed Cedar Falls as a major success.
Westmoreland was much more cautious.
The main NLF headquarters had not been found,...
neither had any sizable enemy unit been brought to battle and destroyed.
In the end 720 Vietcong had been killed for the loss of 72 Americans.
One aim of Operation Cedar Falls was achieved:
The Iron Triangle was completely and utterly destroyed.
After its inhabitants were moved out to refugee camps...
...the district was turned into an uninhabitable wasteland.
Huge Rome plows cut 20 foot wide avenues criss crossing the forest...
...to make any movement instantly visible from the air.
These massive machines could plough the tallest trees into the ground.
60 square miles of forest near Saigon...
...were ploughed under in the Iron Triangle.
Afterwards, Operation Ranch Hand aircraft spread lethal defoliants...
...to destroy the jungle cover and make it impossible to grow crops.
After the Americans had pulled out...
...almost the whole of the Iron Triangle was designated a free fire zone.
Artillery and bombs could be rained down at will...
...and anyone that moved could be attacked from the air.
Yet to the astonishment of the Americans, within weeks of Operation Cedar Falls,...
...the Vietcong were active again in the Iron Triangle.
JUNCTION CITY
By mid February 1967 American commanders had again...
...turned their attention to War Zone C and the NLF's 9th division.
The new offensive was codenamed “Junction City”.
Westmoreland had ordered his commanders to think big, and they had planned...
...the most ambitious Search and Destroy operation of the war so far.
30,000 American troops would take part...
...together with 5,000 men from the South Vietnamese Army.
The main targets of Operation Junction City were the Vietcong's biggest base areas...
...and their main military headquarters for South Vietnam.
This was known as the 'Central Office for South Vietnam' or COSVN.
However COSVN never existed as a place.
In reality, the military and political leadership...
...of the Vietcong were always mobile.
The Vietcong base areas of War zone C held...
...the 9th Division's three regiments,...
...a regiment of the NLF's new 5th Division,...
...and 2 North Vietnamese Army regiments.
Altogether more than 10,000 troops.
There were also thousands more...
...local Vietcong scattered throughout the region.
Operation Junction City called for two American brigades to block...
...the Vietcong's escape to the West over the Cambodian border.
Two more would block to the East.
Infantry and Airborne forces would close off the North...
...by helicopter and parachute landing, forming a giant horseshoe.
Armored Cavalry and infantry brigades would then sweep northwards...
...overrunning all enemy units in their path.
In the second phase of Junction City, a series of Special Forces camps...
...would be built, along with a bridge over the Saigon river,
...and operations would shift to the East.
By February 21st 1967 the Americans were ready to launch Junction City.
The blocking forces to the West and the East were in place.
All that remained was to insert the Northern force.
In one of the largest air mobile assaults ever,...
...240 helicopters swept over Tay Ninh province.
Fighter bombers and gunship helicopters hammered the landing zones.
Within hours, 2,000 troops were deep inside Vietcong territory.
At the same time, in the first parachute drop of the Vietnam War...
nearly 800 men of the 173rd airborne completed the American horseshoe.
The day after the massed air mobile landings,
Infantry and mechanized units began pushing North into the horseshoe.
The terrain was dense forest.
The whole area was riddled with Vietcong fortifications,...
...tunnels and bunkers.
Although there were scattered firefights, the Americans...
...lost men to snipers and booby traps.
There were few big actions.
Often guerrilla installations were found abandoned.
The battles that did happen, were started by the Vietcong.
Powerful units twice attacked...
...elements of the 1st infantry division at Prek Klok.
Furious American bombing and artillery fire drove off the assaults.
Because the Vietcong had begun the battles, they were also able...
...to break off the fight whenever they chose.
Nor were the American blocking forces able...
...to trap them and make them fight.
The dense vegetation meant the guerrilla battalions could break down...
...into platoons and filter through American lines.
By now, the Vietcong military leadership the Americans were searching for...
...had also slipped away across the border into neutral Cambodia.
The second phase of Operation Junction City centered around...
...the building of the Saigon River bridge...
... and the Special Forces camp at An Loc.
Convoys of trucks shuttled up and down route 13 with building materials.
For defense, artillery fire bases including fire support base 20...
...were scattered along the road.
Fire Base Gold and Landing Zone George were created...
...for Search and Destroy sweeps.
Starting on the night of March 18th, 1967, each of the three regiments...
...of the NLF's 9th Division attacked in full strength, 1,000 men at a time.
Each attack was driven off by overwhelming...
...American air and artillery fire.
Vietcong losses were heavy, but the regiments...
...escaped complete destruction.
Operation Junction City lasted 72 days.
By its end in May 1967, this operation, coupled with the Cedar Falls offensive,...
...had cost 282 American lives, and 1,500 wounded.
Nearly 3,000 Vietcong had been killed.
Guerrilla bases had also been overrun and installations destroyed.
American troops had captured large quantities of stores,...
...equipment and weapons.
Although some American commanders hailed Junction City...
...as a turning point in the war,...
...the operation was nearly over before doubts began to surface.
Like Attleboro and Cedar Falls before it, Junction City...
...had inflicted casualties but there had been no great battles of anihilation.
The Vietcong's regiments were bruised but still intact.
Nor did the Americans or the South Vietnamese Army have...
...the forces to occupy the area indefinitely.
As soon as they had gone, the Vietcong regiments returned...
...to rebuild their base areas and reclaim War Zone C.
AFTER THE BATTLE
In July 1967 the U.S. defense secretary, Robert McNamara...
...flew to Saigon to discuss strategy with American...
...and South Vietnamese leaders and officials.
By now, the Vietcong's big units were supposed to be smashed,
instead, Vietcong numbers were still growing, and there was no sign...
...the enemy was about to give up the fight.
McNamara had already recommended an increase in U.S. troop strength...
...to more than half a million men.
But now, he doubted even that would produce victory soon.
Back in Washington, McNamara advised President Johnson...
...to plan for a long war in Vietnam.
There should be less emphasis on battlefield victories,...
...more attention should be payed to long term measures like...
...helping the South Vietnamese government win control of the villages.
Meanwhile, the cost of the war in casualties and dollars...
...should be kept down in case the American public lost patience.
In the summer of 1967 just as the Americans...
...resigned themselves to a long war,...
...the Vietnamese communists changed their strategy.
For two years, the Vietcong had been patient...
...content to inflict casualties and keep on fighting.
Now, they meant to risk an all out offensive.
In 1968 they planned to leave their tunnels and bunkers...
...and win the war in open battle.
Subtitling: DeStrangis