Operation El Paso

Operation El Paso and Operation El Paso II were operations conducted by 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division in Bình Long Province, lasting from 19 May to 13 July 1966.

Prelude

In April 1966 prisoner interrogations revealed that the Viet Cong (VC) 271st and 273rd Regiments of the 9th Division were moving into War zone C. In early May a captured VC notebook revealed plans for a major offensive near Lộc Ninh. A CIDG patrol also killed a VC officer 5 kilometres southeast of Lộc Ninh and retrieved documents showing that 3 regiments from the 9th Division and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 101st Regiment planned attacks near Lộc Ninh by 10 May. The attack did not materialize, but on 17 May Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces tangled with VC from the 271st and 273rd Regiments west of An Lộc. BG William E. DePuy instructed Col Brodbeck's 3rd Brigade to counter the coming offensive.[1]:309

Operation

El Paso

From 19–20 May the 3rd Brigade's three infantry battalions moved to Lộc Ninh and began area searches. By 24 May the searches had failed to locate the VC and BG DePuy ordered the 3rd Brigade to withdraw from the area.[1]:312

El Paso II

In late May, US intelligence learned that the VC had postponed their Bình Long offensive and now planned to cut Highway 13 and attack An Lộc, Chơn Thành and Lộc Ninh. MG Jonathan O. Seaman ordered BG DePuy to counter this new offensive and Operation El Paso II was launched on 2 June. The 3rd Brigade already in the operational area would be reinforced by the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment (1/4th Cavalry), the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment (2/18th Infantry) and the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment.[1]:312

On 8 June Troop A 1/4th Cavalry comprising 9 M48 tanks and 32 other armored vehicles left Phu Loi Base Camp to move to An Lộc. That afternoon near the village of Tau O the lead M48 was disabled by a mine as part of an ambush by 2 battalions of the 272nd Regiment. The remaining vehicles formed a perimeter and fought off the VC attack for several hours before reinforcements from the ARVN 5th Division arrived and the VC withdrew. Searches of the area found 105 VC bodies and it was estimated that a further 200-250 dead had been removed, US losses were 14 killed and ARVN losses were 19 killed.[1]:312–3

On 9 June the operation was expanded by the addition of Col Sidney Berry's 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division which was tasked with searching for the VC from Highway 13 west to Minh Thanh.[1]:313

On 11 June Company A 2/28th Infantry patrolling northwest of Lộc Ninh with a CIDG platoon was engaged by the VC 1st Battalion, 273rd Regiment located on two adjacent hills, Hill 150 and Hill 175. As the battle developed Company C 2/28th Infantry was deployed as reinforcements and following air and artillery strikes assaults were launched on the hills. At 14:30 Company C and the battalion's reconnaissance platoon assaulted Hill 177 from the south and west but were pushed back by a VC counterattack. The reconnaissance platoon took position in a trench which was covered by a VC machine gun and lost 19 killed. Despite this by 16:15 the VC were forced from the hill and withdrew northwest harassed by air and artillery strikes. On Hill 150 Company A made 2 assaults both of which were repulsed, Company B then joined the fight and by 16:30 had forced the VC from the hill where they were ambushed by a waiting CIDG Company. US losses were 33 killed, while VC losses were 98 by body count and subsequent intelligence indicated that half of the 1st Battalion had been killed.[1]:314

On 30 June Troops B and C 1/4th Cavalry and Company C 2/18th Infantry left An Lộc to escort engineers to repair a bridge at Cam Le and carry out reconnaissance along Highway 13 north of the bridge. At 09:40 as Troop B proceeded north of the intersection of Highway 13 and Highway 17, they drove into an L-shaped ambush by the 271st Regiment. Within 30 minutes all of Troop B's M48s had been disabled. Air strikes and gunships were directed to support the beleaguered unit and Troop C rushed to the scene allowing Troop B to withdraw south and then west to set up blocking positions. By midday the VC began to withdraw to the west, fighting their way past reinforcements arriving at the battlefield. The 1st Brigade was ordered to pursue the VC and deployed west towards the Cambodian border. In order to cover the 271st Regiment's withdrawal, the VC commander Senior Col. Hoàng Cầm ordered the 273rd Regiment to attack Company A 2/18th Infantry which was in a night defensive position near the border. At sunset on 1 July the position was assaulted by a VC platoon, Company C 2/18th Infantry moved to reinforce Company A and the VC withdrew by 20:00. At 05:45 on 2 July the VC attacked the position again with mortar fire and several ground assaults, bad weather delayed US airstrikes but they eventually forced the VC to withdraw by 09:00. US losses were 13 killed, while VC losses were 98 killed and an estimated further 110-152 bodies removed.[1]:316–8

Aftermath

Operation El Paso II officially concluded on 13 July. Operation El Paso III was then launched by the 1st Brigade in the same area and continued until 3 September with negligible results. Total US casualties were 125 killed, while the US/MACV claimed VC losses were 825 killed through body count, with a further 1249 estimated killed.[1]:324[2]

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Carland, John (2000). Combat Operations: Stemming the Tide, May 1965 to October 1966. United States Army Center of Military History. ISBN 9781782663430. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "Vietnam Archive Operations Database". The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
4th Cavalry Regiment (United States)

The 4th Cavalry Regiment is a United States Army cavalry regiment, whose lineage is traced back to the mid-19th century. It was one of the most effective units of the Army against American Indians on the Texas frontier. Today, the regiment exists as separate squadrons within the U.S. Army. The 1st Squadron of the 4th Cavalry's official nickname is "Quarterhorse", which alludes to its 1/4 Cav designation. The 3rd Squadron of the 4th Cavalry's official nickname is "Raiders". Today, the "1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry", "2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry", "4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry", and "6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry" are parts of the 1st Infantry Division, while the "3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry" serves as part of the 25th Infantry Division. On 23 September 2009, the "4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry" officially stood up at Fort Riley, Kansas as part of the 1st "Devil" Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. On 28 March 2008, the "5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry" officially stood up at Fort Riley, Kansas as part of the 2nd "Dagger" Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. The 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry served as part of the recently inactivated 1st Infantry Division, 3rd "Duke" Brigade, at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

5th Division (South Vietnam)

The Fifth Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)—the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975—was part of the III Corps that oversaw the region of the country surrounding the capital, Saigon.

The Fifth Division was based in Biên Hòa, a town on the northern outskirts of Saigon, and due to the division's close proximity to the capital Saigon was a key factor in the success or failure of the various coup attempts in the nation's history. As a result, the loyalty of the commanding officer of the division was crucial in maintaining power.

9th Division (Vietnam)

The 9th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed from Viet Cong units in 1964/5 in the Mekong Delta region.

Battle of Khe Sanh

The Battle of Khe Sanh (21 January – 9 July 1968) was conducted in the Khe Sanh area of northwestern Quảng Trị Province, Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), during the Vietnam War. The main US forces defending Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB) were two regiments of the United States Marines Corps supported by elements from the United States Army and the United States Air Force (USAF), as well as a small number of Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) troops. These were pitted against two to three divisional-size elements of the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN).

The US command in Saigon initially believed that combat operations around KSCB during 1967 were part of a series of minor PAVN offensives in the border regions. That appraisal was later altered when the PAVN was found to be moving major forces into the area. In response, US forces were built up before the PAVN isolated the Marine base. Once the base came under siege, a series of actions was fought over a period of five months. During this time, KSCB and the hilltop outposts around it were subjected to constant PAVN artillery, mortar, and rocket attacks, and several infantry assaults. To support the Marine base, a massive aerial bombardment campaign (Operation Niagara) was launched by the USAF. Over 100,000 tons of bombs were dropped by US aircraft and over 158,000 artillery rounds were fired in defense of the base. Throughout the campaign, US forces used the latest technology to locate PAVN forces for targeting. Additionally, the logistical effort required to support the base once it was isolated demanded the implementation of other tactical innovations to keep the Marines supplied.

In March 1968, an overland relief expedition (Operation Pegasus) was launched by a combined Marine–Army/ARVN task force that eventually broke through to the Marines at Khe Sanh. American commanders considered the defense of Khe Sanh a success, but shortly after the siege was lifted, the decision was made to dismantle the base rather than risk similar battles in the future. On 19 June 1968, the evacuation and destruction of KSCB began. Amid heavy shelling, the Marines attempted to salvage what they could before destroying what remained as they were evacuated. Minor attacks continued before the base was officially closed on 5 July. Marines remained around Hill 689, though, and fighting in the vicinity continued until 11 July until they were finally withdrawn, bringing the battle to a close.

In the aftermath, the North Vietnamese proclaimed a victory at Khe Sanh, while US forces claimed that they had withdrawn, as the base was no longer required. Historians have observed that the Battle of Khe Sanh may have distracted American and South Vietnamese attention from the buildup of Viet Cong (VC) forces in the south before the early 1968 Tet Offensive. Nevertheless, the US commander during the battle, General William Westmoreland, maintained that the true intention of Tet was to distract forces from Khe Sanh.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1966)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1966, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and their allies.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.