Operation Fairfax

Operation Fairfax was a joint counterinsurgency/pacification operation conducted by the II Field Force, Vietnam and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in Gia Định Province, near Saigon lasting from November 1966 to 15 December 1967.[1]


In October 1966 U.S. intelligence estimated that the Viet Cong (VC) in Gia Định Province, fielded eight battalions, each of 2-300 members known collectively as the 165A "Capital Liberation" Regiment. In Bình Chánh District the VC had overrun a police station and repeatedly cut roads in the area. Concerned by the deteriorating security situation around the capital, in November 1966 COMUSMACV General William Westmoreland proposed a joint U.S./ARVN security operation to General Cao Văn Viên Chief of the Joint General Staff. The operational plan would pair U.S. and ARVN Battalions to conduct security operations in Bình Chánh, Nhà Bè and Thủ Đức Districts around Saigon. They would operate mostly at night, minimizing disruption to the civilian population and confronting the Viet Cong when they were most active. The units would set up population control checkpoints in coordination with the Police and establish joint military/Police security centers in each district to centralize the collection of intelligence.[1]:156-7

II Field Force, Vietnam would be responsible for the U.S. participation taking a battalion from the 1st Infantry Division and two from the 25th Infantry Division. The ARVN units would come from III Corps.[1]:157 It was expected that by February 1967 the Vietnamese would be able to take responsibility for the entire operation and U.S. units could be deployed elsewhere.[1]:158


The operation commenced in December and by the end of the month had claimed 235 VC killed or captured as compared to 15 in November, however despite a general improvement in security ambushes actually increased during this period.[1]:157

In January 1967 General Westmoreland ordered that the 199th Infantry Brigade commanded by BG Charles Ryder take over as the dedicated unit responsible for the operation. In February VC killed or captured increased to over 300.[1]:158

In March BG Ryder was promoted and replaced as commander of the 199th Brigade by BG John F. Freund, Westmoreland's former assistant and MACV training director who had close relationships with General Viên and National Police Chief General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan.[1]:158-9

In March and April security in the operational area appeared to improve, but this was regarded as illusory while the South Vietnamese Government continued to delay reforms and public works creating apathy among the populace who were open to the Viet Cong political agenda. Intelligence operations were having limited success in identifying and eliminating the Viet Cong political infrastructure.[1]:159

By June General Westmoreland was of the view that the ARVN and National Police had become too dependent on the U.S. to bear the burden of the operation and he advised General Viên that by the end of 1967 the 199th Brigade would be withdrawn from Gia Định Province. General Viên agreed with this change and was embarrassed that U.S. units had had to be responsible for the defense of the capital for so long. He ordered that the 5th Ranger Group take over ARVN responsibility for the operation.[1]:160

By July over 75 U.S./ARVN ambushes were being set up each night and bases had been established to interdict traffic on the Đồng Nai river. U.S. helicopter gunships sank an estimated 700 VC sampans during the course of the operation.[1]:160-1

In August BG Freund was wounded during an operation and command passed to BG Robert C. Forbes. BG Forbes regarded the Rangers as still being too dependent on the U.S. "buddy" units, but given their limited resources this was hardly surprising and he arranged to have more modern equipment delivered and U.S. advisers attached.[1]:161

On 24 September the pairing of U.S. and ARVN units was discontinued and the 199th Brigade and ARVN Rangers operated independently in different sectors, occasionally conducting combined operations.[1]:161


Operation Fairfax officially concluded on 15 December, the US claimed VC losses were over 1200 killed or captured.[1]:162

While General Westmoreland regarded the operation as a limited success, he concluded that the integration of U.S. and ARVN units was counterproductive, reducing the ARVN to combat auxiliaries.[1]:162

While the operation had somewhat improved security in Gia Định Province, this was only temporary as the Viet Cong infrastructure had not been seriously disrupted and within 6 weeks of the end of the operation the Viet Cong were able to launch their Tet Offensive attacks on Saigon.[2]


 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 i j k l m n MacGarrigle, George (1998). Combat Operations: Taking the Offensive, October 1966 to October 1967. Government Printing Office. p. 155-6. ISBN 9780160495403.
  2. ^ Oberdorfer, Don (1971). Tet!: The Turning Point in the Vietnam War. The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0801867037.
John F. Freund

John Fredrick Freund, Jr. (1918-2001)

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.

Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence

The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence is an award for operational excellence given to organizations worldwide by the Shingo Institute, part of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. In order to be selected as a recipient of the Shingo Prize, an organization "challenges" or applies for the award by first submitting an achievement report that provides data about recent business improvements and accomplishments and then undergoing an onsite audit performed by Shingo Institute examiners. Organizations are scored relative to how closely their culture matches the ideal as defined by the Shingo Institute. Those meeting the criteria are awarded the Shingo Prize. Other awards include the Shingo Silver Medallion, the Shingo Bronze Medallion and the Research and Professional Publication Award.

Vietnamese Rangers

The Vietnamese Rangers, properly known in Vietnamese as the Biệt Động Quân and commonly known as the ARVN Rangers, were the light infantry of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Trained and assisted by American Special Forces and Ranger advisers, the Vietnamese Rangers infiltrated beyond enemy lines in daring search and destroy missions. Initially trained as a counter-insurgency light infantry force by removing the fourth company each of the existing infantry battalions, they later expanded into a swing force capable of conventional as well as counter-insurgency operations, and were relied on to retake captured regions. Later during Vietnamization the Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was transferred from MACV and integrated as Border Battalions responsible for manning remote outposts in the Central Highlands.Rangers were often regarded as among the most effective units in the war, the most well-led ARVN unit and formed part of the highly-mobile response units operating in key areas. Part of this was due to the specialized role of these units, given that they had their origins in French-raised Commando Units, the GCMA which were drawn from Viet Minh defectors and Tai-Kadai groups, operating in interdiction and counter-intelligence roles, and were trained specifically for counter-insurgency and rough-terrain warfare in the region. Ranger Units often had a US Military Adviser attached to these units although operated independently. The foremost counterinsurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson remarked in 1974 that the ARVN as a whole were the third-best trained army in the free-world and second only to the Israelis in counter-insurgency, with the Rangers, ARVN Airborne and Marine Division forming the vanguard. With improvements in the ARVN from 1969 onward and the growing prestige of the Airborne and Marine Division, depredation had caused the Central Highlands-based Rangers to become manned by deserters, released convicts and Montagnards nevertheless the unit continued to perform critical roles in the Easter Offensive and frontier skirmishes in 1973 and 1974.

A total of 11 U.S Presidential Unit Citation (United States) were issued to the 22 original Ranger Battalions, including one unit whom earned three total citations from two different presidents. See List of Non-US Presidential Unit Citations in Vietnam.

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