Battle of Snuol

The Battle of Snuol, fought over the border inside Snuol a Cambodian district, was a major battle of the Vietnam War, conducted by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) as part of Operation Toàn Thắng TT02. The battle lasted from 5 January to 30 May 1971.

Background

In 1970 the joint South Vietnamese and U.S Cambodian Incursion was viewed as an overall success after Allied troops successfully captured a huge enemy cache consisting of food and weapon supplies. Although relatively little contact was made during the operation, the Viet Cong (VC) and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) troops were forced to move deeper into Cambodian territory.

One year following the incursion, General Nguyễn Văn Hiếu and General Đỗ Cao Trí made a plan to go back into Cambodia to find and destroy the VC. According to General Hieu's plan, instead of searching for the enemy, the ARVN would use one regiment to try to lure the VC out and then trap them once they come out to attack. ARVN commanders called this the "luring the tiger down the mountain tactic".

In order to carry out their mission, the ARVN was ready to commit the 5th, 18th and 25th Divisions just in case the VC came out in force.

Battle

Prior to the luring operation, 11 sensors were planted along Route 13 north and south of Snuol during two separate operations. The monitoring equipment was operated by the ARVN 5th Division located in Lộc Ninh.

On 4 January 1971, the ARVN Task Force 9 was formed with the mission of luring out the VC. Task Force 9 consisted of the 9th Regiment, 74th Ranger Battalion, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 5th Engineer Company. They were supported by the U.S. 3rd Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry.

On 26 February General Nguyễn Văn Minh took over command of the operation after General Đỗ Cao Trí died in a helicopter crash. Instead of continuing on with the original plan, General Minh choose to apply withdrawal tactics without air-support, if successful the VC would be annihilated by several ARVN divisions during the final phase. But if not, the task force would be destroyed.

During the months of January and February the ARVN made little contact with the enemy because the VC often avoided heavy engagements. However, by May things were about to change after Task Force 9 was replaced by Task Force 8 (8th Regiment). Throughout April Task Force 8 conducted raid and sweeping operations near VC bases, but the ARVN were disappointed again as the VC melted away without putting up significant resistance.

On 25 May the VC 5th and 7th Divisions began encircling Task Force 8 positions. For the next five days the VC assaulted the besieged Task Force 8, but they could not destroy the main formation because of diversionary attacks conducted by the ARVN on the night of 29 May, which led VC commanders to believe that Task Force 8 would attack them from the north. The VC subsequently deployed their anti-aircraft units to the north, and left their units in the south of Snuol exposed to the firepower of the U.S 17th Air Cavalry.

Massed formations from the regular VC divisions placed immense pressure on the ARVN's movements, and without any air support or rescue, Task Force 8 was on the brink of collapse. At that point, General Nguyễn Văn Hiếu decided to execute his withdrawal plan which occurred over three stages. Despite the encirclement, the ARVN were able to fight their way out under extreme duress and made it home.

Aftermath

When the battle had ended ARVN casualties included 37 killed, 167 wounded and 74 missing, 1,043 VC were claimed to have been killed throughout the battle.

From the South Vietnamese point of view, if General Minh had not changed battle plans then the ARVN could have won a decisive victory with the destruction of the VC's 5th and 7th Divisions. Although Task Force 8 was threatened with destruction during the encirclement at Snuol, they displayed discipline and determination. But the failure to destroy the VC 5th and 7th Divisions would have negative consequences for South Vietnam 10 months later, when the VC 5th Division would overrun Lộc Ninh during the Easter Offensive.

The Viet Cong victory at Snuol gave North Vietnam another opportunity to boast about Communist successes. On 2 June 1971, North Vietnamese propaganda claimed that "over three hours' fierce engagement with Saigon troops on May 30, wiped out the 8th Infantry Multi-Battalion Unit, the 1st Armoured Regiment, and a mixed artillery battalion, killing or wounding 1,500 troops and capturing 300 others, and inflicting other losses on the enemy".[2]

References

  1. ^ "North Vietnamese seize Snoul, Cambodia". History Channel. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b "VC's Perspectives of the Snoul Battle".

External links

5th Infantry Division (Vietnam)

The VC 5th Infantry Division was a division of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War and later became part of the People's Army of Vietnam. The division consisted of the 274 Regiment and 275 Regiment plus supporting units. Formed in August 1965 the VC 5th Division's headquarters was located in Northeast Phuoc Tuy in the May Tao Mountains, the 274th Regiment's headquarters was located in the Hat Dich area and the 275th Regiment's headquarters was also located in the May Tao Mountains. The division operated in the Bien Hoa, Dong Nai, Phuoc Tuy and Long Khanh provinces. North Vietnamese regulars also reinforced the division during operations.As part of the campaign against Saigon it was tasked with isolating the eastern provinces by interdicting the main roads and highways, including national routes 1 and 15 and provincial routes 2 and 23. It this role it proved a major challenge to the ARVN, with the 275th Regiment successfully ambushing a South Vietnamese battalion near Binh Gia on 11 November 1965. The division or elements participated in the Battle of Long Tan against Australian Army forces, as well as a number of other actions. Other notable battles included the battles of Bien Hoa, Long Binh, Snuol, and Loc Ninh. Later in the war the division also operated in Cambodia.

Presently, the 5th Division is under the 7th Military Region.

7th Infantry Division (Vietnam)

The 7th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed in 1966 in the Mekong Delta region from the 141st Infantry Regiment and the 209th Infantry Regiment which were detached from the 312th Division.

List of battles (geographic)

This list of battles is organized geographically, by country in its present territory.

Nguyễn Văn Hiếu

Major General Nguyễn Văn Hiếu (23 June 1929, Tientsin, China – 8 April 1975, Biên Hòa, Vietnam) was a general in the South Vietnamese army. As a child he lived in Shanghai. He later emigrated with his ethnic Vietnamese parents to Saigon when the Chinese Communist Party took over China in 1949. He attended Aurore University in Shanghai, China. In 1950, he attended the Vietnamese Military Academy, graduating second in his class in 1951. In 1963, he graduated from Command and General Staff College, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

His assignments included G3/Joint General Staff, G3/1st Corps, Chief of Staff of 1st Division, Chief of Staff of I Corps, Chief of Staff of II Corps, Commander of 22nd Division, Chief of Staff of II Corps, Commander of 5th Division, Deputy Commander of I Corps, Minister of Anti-Corruption under Vice-President Trần Văn Hương, Deputy Commander of III Corps, Commander of Forward HQ III Corps, and MG Deputy Commander of III Corps. He was found dead on 8 April 1975 at III Corps Headquarters, Biên Hòa, and theories that he had been assassinated emerged. Two days later, he was posthumously promoted to lieutenant general.

Nguyễn Văn Minh

Nguyễn Văn Minh (1929-2006) was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) during the Vietnam War. Minh entered military service during the First Indochina War in 1950 as an airborne officer serving in the French colonial forces. In November 1960, he supported a group of officers that staged an unsuccessful coup against President Ngo Dinh Diem. Minh was then dispatched to An Giang Province, in the Mekong Delta, and served as provincial chief until Diem's death in 1963. He was sometimes known as "Little Minh" to distinguish him from the much larger (physically) Dương Văn Minh, known as "Big Minh".The following year, he became deputy commander of the 21st ARVN Division in the IV Corps Tactical Zone. In 1965 Minh was promoted brigadier general and given command of the division. Upon the accidental death of the commander of III Corps, Lieutenant General Do Cao Tri during the Cambodian Incursion of 1970, Minh was promoted and became corps commander.

Although he had been an excellent divisional commander and was an able and energetic administrator, he was out of his depth when given an entire corps. In 1971, he commanded his unit during the Battle of Snuol.

Minh did manage to convince President Thieu that An Lộc, not Tây Ninh, was the major communist objective during the third phase of the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive (Nguyễn Huệ Offensive) of 1972. He successfully commanded his forces in the city's defense.

Outline of the Vietnam War

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Vietnam War:

Vietnam War – Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War (1946–54) and was fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States, Philippines and other anti-communist allies. The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam, also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units to battle.

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