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Old 05-17-2014, 06:17 AM
A.B A.B is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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Post "The Cambodian Incursion"....

"The Cambodian Incursion".

Source of below text:
USARMY Center Of Military History.
Direct link (chapter 11, sect. 4 "Cross-border Operations"):


Cross-Border Operations

With most U.S. combat units slated to leave South Vietnam during 1970 and 1971, time was a critical factor for the success of Vietnamization
and pacification. Neither program could thrive if South Vietnam’s forces were distracted by enemy offensives launched from bases in Cambodia or Laos. While Abrams’ operations temporarily reduced the level of enemy activity in the South, bases outside South Vietnam had been strictly off limits to allied ground forces. This rankled U.S. commanders, who regarded the restriction as a potentially fatal mistake. By harboring enemy forces, command facilities, and logistical depots, the Cambodian and Laotian bases threatened all the progress the allies had made in the South since Tet 1968. To the Nixon administration, Abrams’ desire to attack the Communist sanctuaries had the special appeal of gaining more time for Vietnamization and of compensating for the bombing halt over North Vietnam. Because of the proximity of the Cambodian bases to Saigon, they received first priority. Planning for the cross-border attack occurred at a critical time in Cambodia. In early 1970 Cambodia’s neutralist leader, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, was overthrown by his pro-Western Defense Minister, General Lon Nol. Nol closed the port of Sihanoukville to supplies destined for Communist forces in the border bases and in South Vietnam. He also demanded that Communist forces leave Cambodia and accepted the South Vietnamese government’s offer to apply pressure against those located near the border. (A year earlier American B–52 bombers had begun in secret to bomb enemy bases in Cambodia.) By mid-April 1970 South Vietnamese armored cavalry and ranger units, with no U.S. advisers accompanying them, were mounting large-scale operations across the border from III Corps and uncovering large caches of enemy supplies and equipment.

The main assault began on the twenty-ninth. That morning three South Vietnamese task forces, this time with a full complement of U.S. advisers, and preceded by heavy air and artillery attacks, launched Operation TOAN THANG 42, knifing into Cambodia’s Svay Rieng Province and pushing through enemy resistance. Two days later, on May 1, units of the 1st Cavalry Division; 25th Infantry Division; 3d Brigade, 9th Infantry Division; 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR); and South Vietnamese 3d Airborne Brigade, under the command of Brig. Gen. Robert L. Shoemaker, followed from slightly to the north. The 4th Infantry Division attacked from II Corps four days later.

Map 18: Cambodian Incursion May- June 1970:

Cambodia became a new battlefield of the Vietnam War. By May 2 South Vietnamese forces had cut off the Parrot’s Beak, an area that jutted into South Vietnam near the III Corps–IV Corps border, and U.S. and South Vietnamese troops had linked up near Memot in the so-called Fishhook, meeting little opposition from enemy security forces. (See Map 18.) Snuol, a large enemy logistical hub, fell to the tanks of the 11th ACR three days later. In the weeks that followed the allies cut a broad swath through the enemy’s sanctuary and uncovered storage sites, training camps, and hospitals far larger and more complex than anyone had anticipated. One site in the Fishhook, dubbed “the city” in deference to its size, covered three square kilometers and contained mess halls, a livestock farm, supply issuing and receiving stations, and over two hundred caches of weapons and other materiel, most of it new. By one estimate, the allies in Cambodia seized enough weapons and ammunition to arm fifty-five battalions of main-force infantry. Main-force offensives against South Vietnam’s III and IV Corps were derailed for at least a year.

However, the allies did not find large enemy forces or the COSVN headquarters. Only relatively small delaying forces offered resistance, while main-force units retreated deeper into Cambodia. Meanwhile, the expansion of the war produced violent demonstrations in the United States. In response to the public outcry Nixon imposed geographical and time limits on operations in Cambodia, which enabled the enemy to stay beyond reach. At the end of June, one day short of the sixty days allotted to the operation, all advisers accompanying the South Vietnamese and all U.S. Army units had left Cambodia.

Political and military events in Cambodia triggered changes in the war as profound as those the Tet offensive had engendered. From a quiescent sideshow of the war, Cambodia became an arena for the major belligerents. Military activity increased in northern Cambodia and southern Laos as North Vietnam established new infiltration routes and bases to replace those lost during the incursion. North Vietnam made clear that it regarded all Indochina as a single theater of operations. Cambodia itself was engulfed in a civil war.

As U.S. Army units withdrew, the South Vietnamese Army found itself in a race against Communist forces to secure the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Americans provided South Vietnam’s overextended forces air and logistical support to enable them to stabilize the situation there. The time to strengthen Vietnamization gained by the incursion now had to be weighed in the balance against the South Vietnamese Army’s new commitment in Cambodia. To the extent that South Vietnam’s forces bolstered Lon Nol’s regime, they were unable to contribute to pacification and rural security in their own country. Moreover, the South Vietnamese performance in Cambodia was mixed. When working closely with American advisers, the army acquitted itself well; though there were flaws in planning and the use of air and artillery support. The South Vietnamese logistical system, with a few exceptions, proved adequate. The difficulty was that the North Vietnamese Army largely chose not to fight, so the South Vietnamese Army was never really tested. Furthermore, the South Vietnamese command had relied on rangers, armored cavalry, and airborne troops—elite units—bypassing the mediocre infantry divisions hampered by their politics. If the elite units performed credibly, the shortcomings in the regular army remained intact, starting with poor leadership and lack of discipline.


Just wanted to share. T G C!

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