Operation Attleboro

Operation Attleboro was a Vietnam War search and destroy operation by the 196th Light Infantry Brigade with the objective to discover the location(s) of the North Vietnamese or Viet Cong base areas and force them to fight. The operation was named after Attleboro, Massachusetts, where the brigade had been formed. Operation Attleboro turned out to be the largest series of air mobile operations to that time, involving all or elements of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, 25th Division, 1st Infantry Division, and a brigade of the 4th Division, as well as numerous Army of the Republic of Vietnam and Regional Forces/Popular Forces and Nungs. In the end, the operation became a corps operation commanded by II Field Forces.

Operation Attleboro
Part of the Vietnam War
US Infantry Deploy from UH-1D Vietnam

Infantrymen attacking out of a UH-1D helicopter during Operation Attleboro.
DateSeptember 14 – November 25, 1966
Northwest of Dau Tieng, South Vietnam
Result See Aftermath
Flag of the United States.svg United States
Flag of South Vietnam.svg South Vietnam
FNL Flag.svg Viet Cong
Flag of Vietnam.svg North Vietnam
Commanders and leaders
Guy S. Meloy
William E. DePuy
Units involved

1st Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division
25th Infantry Division

FNL Flag.svg 9th VC Division
Vietnam 101st NVA Regiment
Casualties and losses
155 killed
517 wounded
5 missing
US body count: 2,130 killed
900 wounded
200+ missing or captured


The 196th Light Infantry Brigade initiated Operation Attleboro on September 14, 1966 in the Tay Ninh Province, however no significant contact was made with North Vietnamese Army (NVA) or Viet Cong (VC) forces until October 19, 1966 when a sizable NVA base area was discovered.[1] By early November, U.S. forces had expanded to include the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 27th Infantry Regiment (25th Infantry Division), the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and two brigades of the 1st Infantry Division.[2]

The most significant fighting occurred when Viet Cong forces assaulted the US perimeter at Suoi Da on November 8. The assault was defeated by artillery and air strikes. Afterwards, a large Viet Cong base camp was detected. It was one of the largest hauls to date in the war, with the American forces seizing two million pounds of rice; 116 transportation bicycles; approximately 25,000 Chinese-made hand grenades (many containing tear gas); 481 M18 Claymore anti-personnel mines; 80 rocket launchers; 25 machine guns; myriad number of pistols; rifles like AKMs and AK-47s; clothing; tobacco; miscellaneous foods like cooking oil, salt and fish; and a bounty of petroleum.

Operation Attleboro was the first field test of the U.S. Army's new search and destroy doctrine and set a pattern that would be later exhibited other large operations including Cedar Falls and Junction City. These operations began with massive B-52 Arc Light bombing strikes followed by helicopter and ground sweeps that usually made sporadic contact with VC and NVA forces. Americans often uncovered evidence of hasty departure (i.e. abandoned camps, vacated tunnels, caches of food and supplies) indicating that the communist forces had been alerted by the preparations for upcoming search-and-destroy missions.[3]

U.S. Forces Task Organization[4]

Phase I (14 September to 31 October) Phase II (31 October to 5 November) Phase III (5-10 November) Phase IV (10-25 November) Support Units
196th Infantry Brigade (Light) (Separate) 196th Infantry Brigade (Light) (Separate)
  • 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry
  • 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry
  • 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 82nd Artillery
  • A Battery/1st Battalion, 8th Artillery (Attached 4 November)
  • C Battery/3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery (General Support, reinforcing 2 November)
  • Platoon/B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery (Attached 3 November)
196th Infantry Brigade Task Force (attached to 1st Infantry Division)
  • 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry
  • 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry (attached to 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry 8–10 November)
  • 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry (attached to 1st Infantry Division 5–11 November)
  • 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry (attached to 1st Infantry Division 6–10 November)
2nd Brigade Task Force
  • 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry (10 November)
  • 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry
  • 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry (11 November)
  • 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry
  • 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (13 November)
  • 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery

196th Infantry Brigade Task Force

  • 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry
  • 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 82nd Artillery
25th Aviation Battalion

11th Aviation Battalion 13th Aviation Battalion

  • 175th Aviation Company

52nd Aviation Battalion

  • 117th Aviation Company

145th Aviation Battalion

  • 68th Aviation Company
  • 71st Aviation Company
  • 118th Aviation Company


US intelligence later estimated VC/PAVN losses during Operation Attleboro as 2,130 killed, 900 wounded, and over 200 missing or captured. Allied losses totaled 155 killed and 494 wounded.[5] Other estimates put the figure at 500 PAVN/VC killed, and roughly 127 guns and 19 crew-guns recovered[6].

U.S. military spokesmen claimed that the most significant result of Operation Attleboro was the severe blow struck against the communists' supply system, however, the operation failed to eradicate VC political domination in Tay Ninh Province, as they quietly returned to the area from their sanctuaries in Cambodia just after the American withdrawal.[7]


  1. ^ Summers, The Vietnam War Almanac, p. 39-40.
  2. ^ Olson, In Country: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, p. 415.
  3. ^ Kutler, Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, p. 516.
  4. ^ "Combat Operations After Action Report, Operation Attleboro" (PDF). United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  5. ^ Tucker 2011, p. 81.
  6. ^ Jr, Ronald B. Frankum (2011-06-10). Historical Dictionary of the War in Vietnam. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810879560.
  7. ^ Daddis 2011, p. 7.


11th Aviation Battalion

The 11th Aviation Battalion was a United States Army aviation unit that fought in the Vietnam War. The unit served as a test for helicopter support of ground infantry units.

173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team

The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (173rd ABCT) ("Sky Soldiers") is an airborne infantry brigade combat team of the United States Army based in Vicenza, Italy. It is the United States European Command's conventional airborne strategic response force for Europe.

Activated in 1915, as the 173rd Infantry Brigade, the unit saw service in World War II but is best known for its actions during the Vietnam War. The brigade was the first major United States Army ground formation deployed in Vietnam, serving there from 1965 to 1971 and losing almost 1,800 soldiers. Noted for its roles in Operation Hump and Operation Junction City, the 173d is best known for the Battle of Dak To, where it suffered heavy casualties in close combat with North Vietnamese forces. Brigade members received over 7,700 decorations, including more than 6,000 Purple Hearts. The brigade returned to the United States in 1972, where the 1st and 2d Battalion, 503d Infantry, were absorbed into the 3d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), and the 3d Battalion, 319th Field Artillery was reassigned to Division Artillery in the 101st. The remaining units of the 173d were inactivated.

Since its reactivation in 2000, the brigade served five tours in the Middle East in support of the War on Terror. The 173d participated in the initial invasion of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and had four tours in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005–06, 2007–08, 2009–10, and 2012–13. The brigade returned most recently from a deployment stretching from late 2013 to late 2014.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team has received 21 campaign streamers and several unit awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions during the Battle of Dak To during the Vietnam War.

1st Infantry Division (United States)

The 1st Infantry Division is a combined arms division of the United States Army, and is the oldest continuously serving in the Regular Army. It has seen continuous service since its organization in 1917 during World War I. It was officially nicknamed "The Big Red One" (abbreviated "BRO") after its shoulder patch and is also nicknamed "The Fighting First". However, the division has also received troop monikers of "The Big Dead One" and "The Bloody First" as puns on the respective officially sanctioned nicknames. It is currently based at Fort Riley, Kansas.

21st Infantry Regiment (United States)

The 21st Infantry Regiment ("Gimlet") is a United States Army infantry regiment. The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 21st currently exist as part of the 25th Infantry Division. The regiment fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom. Task Force Smith, the first American unit to see action in the Korean War, was derived from the regiment's 1st Battalion.

25th Infantry Division (United States)

The 25th Infantry Division (nicknamed "Tropic Lightning") is a United States Army division based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. The division, which was activated on 1 October 1941 in Hawaii, conducts military operations primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. Its present deployment is composed of Stryker, light infantry, airborne, and aviation units.

The division was originally activated from Hawaii garrison units during World War II, slightly more than a month before the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor began the Pacific War. After spending almost a year training, it fought in the Allied counteroffensive during the Guadalcanal Campaign from December 1942, helping to end organized Japanese resistance on that island by early February 1943. The 25th spent a period garrisoning the island, then moved on to fight in the New Georgia Campaign in July. After the Japanese defeat in the latter it was sent to New Zealand later that year for rest and training, before moving to New Caledonia for further training. The division returned to combat in the January 1945 Invasion of Luzon, reducing Japanese resistance on the island until late June, after which it was pulled out of the line for training. The division then served in the Occupation of Japan after the surrender of the latter from September 1945.

When the Korean War began in June 1950, the division was deployed to Korea, where it fought in the defense of and the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter in mid-1950, with elements advancing as far as the Yalu River in November. After being thrown back by the Chinese Communist intervention in the war, the division eventually took up positions south of Osan. It participated in a series of United Nations counteroffensives in early 1951, then fought in a stalemate close to the 38th parallel from the middle of the year. The division defended Seoul against Chinese Communist attack from May 1953 to the July armistice, returning to Hawaii in late 1954.

After undergoing major reorganizations in 1957 and 1963 to adapt to changing tactics, the division deployed to South Vietnam to fight in the Vietnam War between late 1965 and early 1966. The 25th served in Vietnam until its withdrawal back to Hawaii in 1970–1971, participating in Operation Attleboro, Operation Cedar Falls, Operation Junction City, the Battle of Saigon during the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive, and the Cambodian Incursion. It was reorganized as a light infantry division in 1985, and elements have participated in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

4th Infantry Division (United States)

The 4th Infantry Division is a division of the United States Army based at Fort Carson, Colorado. It is composed of a Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, three brigade combat teams (1st Stryker BCT, 2nd Infantry BCT, and 3rd Armored BCT), a Combat Aviation Brigade, the 4th Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, and a Division Artillery.

The 4th Infantry Division's official nickname, "Ivy", is a play on words of the Roman numeral IV or 4. Ivy leaves symbolize tenacity and fidelity which is the basis of the division's motto: "Steadfast and Loyal". The second nickname, "Iron Horse", has been adopted to underscore the speed and power of the division and its soldiers.

82nd Field Artillery Regiment

82nd Field Artillery Regiment is a field artillery regiment of the United States Army. The regiment has been involved with American conflicts dating back to then US involvement in the Mexican Civil War and more recently with the War on Terrorism. Currently, there are two active and three inactivate battalions in the regiment. Traditionally, the regiment has been aligned with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas and Fort Bliss, Texas.

Attleboro, Massachusetts

Attleboro is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. It was once known as "The Jewelry Capital of the World" for its many jewelry manufacturers. According to the 2010 census, Attleboro had a population of 43,593 in 2010.Attleboro is located about 10 miles (16 km) west of Taunton, the same distance to Providence, 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Fall River, and 39 miles (63 km) south of Boston.

Battle of Ap Gu

The Battle of Ap Gu occurred during 31 March and 1 April 1967 during Operation Junction City, a search and destroy mission by American military forces in Tay Ninh Province of South Vietnam, to the west of the capital Saigon. The battle near the border with Cambodia left 609 Viet Cong (VC) killed according to US sources, with 5 captured, and over 50 weapons of all types recovered, while the Americans lost 17 killed and 102 wounded.

Two American infantry battalions were scheduled to make an airborne assault into an area near the border with Cambodia to secure some roads and US bases, and to search and destroy VC in the surrounding area. The assault was scheduled for 30 March, but poor weather meant that one of the battalions did not land until the day after. In the early afternoon of 31 March, the Americans began reconnaissance missions, and one platoon was put into difficulty by a VC attack that killed their commanding officer. A few hours later, an American company was attacked by a battalion-sized VC force, and were in difficulty until supporting artillery allowed them to withdraw. The communists tried to exploit their advantage but were driven off by American firepower.

Before dawn the next day, the VC launched their main attacks on an American landing zone and fire support base with mortar-fire and infantry charged. They managed to overrun a few bunkers and capture 0.4 ha of territory before the Americans called in air strikes and cluster bombs. This wore down the VC and they were forced to withdraw by early morning with heavy casualties.

Battle of Suoi Tre

The Battle of Suoi Tre (Vietnamese: suối Tre) occurred during the early morning of 21 March 1967 during Operation Junction City, a search and destroy mission by American military forces in Tay Ninh Province of South Vietnam, to the west of the capital Saigon. After being challenged heavily to begin with, the Americans gained the upper hand and completed a convincing victory over the Viet Cong (VC). They claimed to have found 647 bodies and captured seven prisoners, while recovering 65 crew-served and 94 individual weapons. The Americans losses were 36 dead and 190 wounded, a fatality ratio of more than twenty to one in their favour.

On 19 March, American helicopters dropped two infantry battalions off in a clearing near Suoi Tre to build a fire support base to be used in search and destroy missions against the VC. During the airlift, seven helicopters were damaged. On March 21, a VC attack started before dawn at 6:30 a.m., headlined by mortars, and followed by a large-scale infantry charge. They overwhelmed parts of the American perimeter at first, and forced them to withdraw inwards. After a period, American reinforcements broke through the VC envelope to assist their besieged colleagues, and firepower and artillery helped them gain the upper hand. The VC stubbornly fought on, with some carrying wounded compatriots forward in follow-up infantry charges, but they were eventually forced to withdraw with heavy casualties.

Iron Triangle (Vietnam)

The Iron Triangle (Vietnamese:Tam Giác Sắt) was a 120 square miles (310 km2) area in the Bình Dương Province of Vietnam, so named due to it being a stronghold of Viet Minh activity during the war. The region was under control of the Viet Minh throughout the French war in Vietnam and continued to be so throughout the phase of American involvement in the Vietnam War, despite concerted efforts on the part of US and South Vietnamese forces to destabilize the region as a power base for their enemy, the communist North Vietnamese–sponsored and–directed South Vietnamese insurgent movement, the National Liberation Front or Viet Cong (NLF).

John F. Baker Jr.

John Franklin Baker Jr. (October 30, 1945 – January 20, 2012) was a United States Army Master Sergeant who served in the Vietnam War and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

List of coalition military operations of the Iraq War

This is a list of coalition (Multi-National Force – Iraq) military operations of the Iraq War. The list covers operations from 2003 until December 2011. For later operations, see American-led intervention in Iraq (2014–present).

Sam S. Walker

Sam Sims Walker (July 31, 1925 – August 8, 2015), United States Army, was an American general who served as the Commanding General of Allied Land Forces, South East Europe (COMLANDSOUTHEAST) from 1977 to 1978.

Search and destroy

Search and Destroy, Seek and Destroy, or even simply S&D, refers to a military strategy that became a large component of the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War. The idea was to insert ground forces into hostile territory, search out the enemy, destroy them, and withdraw immediately afterward. The strategy was the result of a new technology, the helicopter, which resulted in a new form of warfare, the fielding of air cavalry, and was thought to be ideally suited to counter-guerrilla jungle warfare. The complementary conventional strategy, which entailed attacking and conquering an enemy position, then fortifying and holding it indefinitely, was known as "clear and hold" or "clear and secure." In theory, since the traditional methods of "taking ground" could not be used in this war, a war of attrition would be used, eliminating the enemy by the use of "searching" for them, then "destroying" them, and the "body count" would be the measuring tool to determine the success of the strategy of "search and destroy."

The General Goes Zapping Charlie Cong

The General Goes Zapping Charlie Cong is an example of The New Journalism by Nicholas Tomalin, an English journalist, in 1966. It relates a day’s activities of General James F. Hollingsworth during the Vietnam War. It first appeared in the British newspaper The Sunday Times.

Nicholas Tomalin (30 October 1931 – 17 October 1973) was an English investigative reporter and foreign correspondent who wrote for various London newspapers. He died while reporting the 1973 Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War. His father was a communist, which may have given him a particular perspective when reporting a Cold War proxy conflict like the Vietnam War. Tomalin wrote "The General Goes Zapping Charlie Cong" for the weekly London paper The Sunday Times, which ran the story on 5 June 1966.

General James Francis Hollingsworth (24 March 1918 – 2 March 2010) was born in Sanger, Texas on a family farm. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1940 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. A decorated and battle hardened World War II veteran, Hollingsworth was a forty- eight year old Brigadier General when Tomalin wrote this Sunday Times article.

War zone C

War Zone C was the area in South Vietnam centered around the abandoned town of Katum near the Cambodian border where there was a strong concentration of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC) activity during the Vietnam War. This area war reportedly the general location of COSVN, the headquarters for communist military and political activities in the southern half of Vietnam.

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