Operation Freedom Deal

Operation Freedom Deal was a United States Seventh Air Force interdiction and close air support campaign waged in Cambodia between 19 May 1970 and 15 August 1973, as an expansion of the Vietnam War, as well as the Cambodian Civil War. Launched by Richard Nixon as a follow-up to the earlier ground invasion during the Cambodian Campaign, the initial targets of the operation were the base areas and border sanctuaries of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Viet Cong (VC). As time went on most of the bombing was carried out to support the Cambodian government of Lon Nol in its struggle against the communist Khmer Rouge. The area in which the bombing took place was expanded to include most of the eastern one-half of Cambodia. The bombing was extremely controversial, and led the US Congress to pass the War Powers Resolution.[7]

Operation Freedom Deal followed and expanded the bombing of Cambodia conducted under Operation Menu in 1969 and 1970. Most of the bombing was carried out by U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-52 bombers. While the effectiveness of the bombing and the number of Cambodians killed by U.S. bombing is in dispute, civilian fatalities were easily in the tens of thousands.[8]

Operation Freedom Deal
Part of Vietnam War
Date19 May 1970 – 15 August 1973
  • In US, adoption of the War Powers Resolution
  • Delaying the fall of the capital Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge
  • Accelerated collapse of rural Cambodian society, displacement of tens of thousands from countryside to city, increased social polarization[1]
  • Pushing North Vietnamese troops further into Cambodia away from the South Vietnamese border.
  • Khmer Rouge used Civilian loss to promote recruitment, strengthened the hard-liners within the CPK, [2]
Flag of the United States.svg United States
Cambodia Khmer Republic
Flag of Vietnam.svg Democratic Republic of Vietnam
Flag of Democratic Kampuchea.svg Khmer Rouge
Commanders and leaders
United States Richard M. Nixon
United States Henry Kissinger
Flag of Democratic Kampuchea.svg Pol Pot
Casualties and losses

Cambodian casualties: 30,000–500,000[3][4][5][6] This figure refers to the entirety of the US bombing of Cambodia, including the Operation Menu bombings.

Vietnamese casualties: unknown


With the end of Cambodian neutrality due to the coup that ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk and installed pro-US General Lon Nol as president, the Cambodian civil war escalated as the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) reacted to military actions by the Cambodians, Americans, and South Vietnamese.[9][10]

On 15 March 1970, Lon Nol issued an ultimatum to the North Vietnamese, ordering them out of the border areas. The PAVN/VC and their indigenous Khmer Rouge allies had occupied eastern Cambodia for the previous ten years and had established a logistical system and Base Areas along the border during their struggle for a unified Vietnam. They were not about to abandon their zones of control without a fight.


The newly renamed Khmer Republic (which will herein still be referred to as Cambodia) enlarged the Khmer National Armed Forces (FANK) and launched it against the PAVN. Hanoi's response to the ultimatum and this offensive was the launching of Campaign X in April. PAVN and VC forces easily seized eastern and northern Cambodia, leaving only a few isolated FANK enclaves.[9]:94

The U.S. responded by first launching Operation Patio, which consisted of tactical airstrikes into Cambodia as an adjunct to the highly classified Operation Menu, the strategic bombardment of the Base Areas by B-52s.[10]:19–35[11] The Menu bombing pushed PAVN/VC forces deeper into Cambodia, which led to a more expansive U.S. bombing campaign.[12] The U.S. and South Vietnam then launched offensive ground operations in May 1970 during the Cambodian Campaign.

President Richard M. Nixon, however, had placed a 30 June deadline on the operation, after which all US ground forces had to return to South Vietnam. This did not bode well for the Lon Nol government. Although the incursion had temporarily thrown the PAVN/VC off balance, they and the Khmer Rouge struck back against FANK forces. As a result of this state of affairs, Freedom Deal, the overt air support afforded to the incursion, was extended on 6 June.[13]

Operation Freedom Deal

In the post-incursion period, Freedom Deal was originally an interdiction effort, striking enemy supply lines in eastern Cambodia, and was restricted to a 50-kilometer (30 mi) deep area between the South Vietnamese border and the Mekong River. This restriction was, however, quickly voided due to Search and Rescue operations conducted by the U.S. Air Force in order to pick up downed South Vietnamese pilots, who regularly flew outside the Freedom Deal zone.[13]:201-2 Within two months (and without public announcement), the operation was expanded west of the Mekong.[11]:146

The withdrawal of U.S. forces in May left only South Vietnamese and Cambodian forces to do battle with PAVN/VC and the Khmer Rouge. U.S. tactical aircraft then began supplying FANK troops with direct air support. Meanwhile, President Nixon had announced that the policy of the U.S. Air Force was only to interdict PAVN/NLF supply networks (in the same manner that they were interdicted in Laos), and that they were only to be conducted within the specified zone (known as the AIZ or Aerial Interdiction Zone).[13]:203

Post-invasion escalation

Map of Cambodia

During the rest of the year, the Freedom Deal area of operations was expanded three times. Transcripts of telephone conversations reveal that by December 1970 Nixon's dissatisfaction with the success of the bombings prompted him to order that they be stepped up. "They have got to go in there and I mean really go in," he told Henry Kissinger. "I want them to hit everything. I want them to use the big planes, the small planes, everything they can that will help out there, and let's start giving them a little shock.".[14] The president was inspired to reckless escalation by his belief in the "madman theory".[15]

By the beginning of 1971, the area of operations stretched from Route 7 to the Laotian border in the north and 120 kilometers (75 mi) beyond the Mekong to the west.[13]:207 Between July 1970 and February 1971, approximately 44 percent of the 8,000 sorties flown in Cambodia struck targets outside the authorized zone. This led to Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Colonel Ray Sitton developing a policy of falsifying the reports of missions carried out beyond the boundary.[13]:203-4[11]:146–8[15]

Most of the strikes were flown in direct support of FANK troops, although American officials continued to deny the fact. Despite this effort, the communists occupied one-half of Cambodia by late 1970 and had cut all the land routes leading to and from the capital of Phnom Penh. In short order the USAF found itself shifting more and more of its diminishing air power from its interdiction campaign in southern Laos to the struggle in Cambodia. In 1971 Cambodian missions made up nearly 15 percent of the total number of combat sorties flown in Southeast Asia, up from eight percent during the previous year.

According to George McTurnan Kahin, Freedom Deal bombers treated the communist-held parts of the country as a virtual "free-fire zone". For most of the campaign, US Ambassador Emory Swank and his team were only allowed to vet targets west of the Mekong. Often they had no idea what villages were being bombed.[16] Swank soon resigned, one of several foreign policy officials who left because of Kissinger's Cambodia policy.[12]

In Cambodia, the ground war dragged on, with the Khmer Rouge doing the bulk of the fighting against the government. On 28 January 1973, the day the Paris Peace Accord was signed, Lon Nol announced a unilateral cease-fire and U.S. airstrikes were halted. When the Khmer Rouge refused to respond, the bombing resumed on 9 February. The US Seventh Air Force argued that the bombing prevented the fall of Phnom Penh in 1973 by killing 16,000 of 25,000 Khmer Rouge fighters besieging the city.[17] In March the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed a much expanded bombing campaign. From then until the end of the operation on 15 August, sortie and tonnage rates increased. By the last day of Operation Freedom Deal (15 August 1973), 250,000 tons of bombs had been dropped on the Khmer Republic, 82,000 tons of which had been released in the last 45 days of the operation.[18]


During 1973 Freedom Deal aircraft dropped 250,000 tons of bombs (primarily high explosive), more than the 180,000 tons dropped on Japan during the Second World War.[19] As communist forces drew a tighter ring around Phnom Penh in April, the U.S. Air Force flew more than 12,000 bombing sorties and dropped more than 82,000 tons of ordnance in support of Lon Nol's forces during the last 45 days of the operation.[18] Since the inception of the Menu bombings in March 1969, the total amount of ordnance dropped on Cambodia reached 539,129 tons.[10]:297 On 15 August, the last mission of Freedom Deal was flown.

Additional detail concerning the disputed effectiveness of the bombing of Cambodia is in the article Operation Menu. According to David Chandler: "If you just made a very cold, calculating, military decision, the bombing of 1973 was in fact a sensible thing to do [at the time], because had it not happened, the Khmer Rouge would have taken Phnom Penh [much earlier] and South Vietnam would have had a communist country on its flank."[20] In contrast, Pulitzer prize-winning correspondent Sidney Schanberg asserted that the campaign actually fostered the Khmer Rouge's growth, recalling that the militia men "would point... at the bombs falling from B-52s as something they had to oppose if they were going to have freedom. And it became a recruiting tool until they grew to a fierce, indefatigable guerrilla army.".[21]

Cambodian deaths caused by U.S. bombing

U.S. bombing of Cambodia extended over the entire eastern one-half of the country and was especially intense in the heavily populated southeastern one-quarter of the country, including a wide ring surrounding the largest city of Phnom Penh. In large areas, according to maps of U.S. bombing sites, it appears that nearly every square mile of land was hit by bombs with roughly 500,000 tons of bombs dropped.[22]

When extensive bombing by the U.S. of Cambodia began in 1969 it was primarily directed against the PAVN/VC and their supply lines and bases. As the PAVN/VC dispersed their operations deeper into Cambodia to escape U.S. bombing the area bombed by the U.S. expanded. Increasingly, U.S. bombing missions had the objective of supporting the government of Cambodia in its war against the insurgent Khmer Rouge.[23]

The number of deaths caused by U.S. bombing has been disputed and is difficult to disentangle from the broader Cambodian Civil War.[24] Estimates as wide-ranging as 30,000 to 500,000 have been cited.[3][4][25][26] Sihanouk used a figure of 600,000 civil war deaths,[27] while Elizabeth Becker reported over one million civil war deaths, military and civilian included.[28] Marek Sliwinski notes that many estimates of the dead are open to question and may have been used for propaganda, suggesting that the true number lies between 240,000 and 310,000;[24] Judith Banister and E. Paige Johnson described 275,000 war deaths as "the highest mortality we can justify";[29] and Patrick Heuveline states that "Subsequent reevaluations of the demographic data situated the death toll for the [civil war] in the order of 300,000 or less".[30] Of these civil war deaths, Sliwinski estimates that approximately 17.1% can be attributed to U.S. bombing, noting that this is far behind the leading causes of death, as the U.S. bombing was concentrated in under-populated border areas.[24] Ben Kiernan attributes 50,000 to 150,000 deaths to the U.S. bombing.[31]

Another impact of the U.S. bombing and the Cambodian civil war was the destruction of homes and livelihood of many people. This was a large contributor to the refugee crisis in Cambodia with two million people—more than 25 percent of the population—displaced from rural areas into cities, especially Phnom Penh which grew from about 600,000 in 1970 to an estimated population of nearly 2 million by 1975. The Cambodian government estimated that more than 20 percent of property in the country had been destroyed during the war.[10]:222


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  1. ^ Chandler, David (2000). Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot, Revised Edition. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books. pp. 96–8.
  2. ^ https://sites.tufts.edu/atrocityendings/2015/08/07/cambodia-u-s-bombing-civil-war-khmer-rouge
  3. ^ a b Valentino, Benjamin (2005). Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century. Cornell University Press. p. 84. ISBN 9780801472732.
  4. ^ a b Tyner, James (2008). The Killing of Cambodia: Geography, Genocide and the Unmaking of Space. Routledge. ISBN 9780754670964.)
  5. ^ Rummel, Rudolph. "Statistics Of Cambodian Democide: Estimates, Calculations, And Sources". Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  6. ^ "FRONTLINE/WORLD . Cambodia - Pol Pot's Shadow . Chronicle of Survival . 1969-1974: Caught in the crossfire | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  7. ^ Kennedy, David M.; Cohen, Lizabeth; Piehl, Mel (2016). The Brief American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Volume II: Since 1865. Cengage Learning. p. 669. ISBN 9781305887886.
  8. ^ Power, Samantha (2013). A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465050895.
  9. ^ a b Isaacs, Arnold; Hardy, Gordon (1987). The Vietnam Experience Pawns of War: Cambodia and Laos. Boston Publishing Company. ISBN 9780939526246.
  10. ^ a b c d Shawcross, William (1979). Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia. Washington Square Books. p. 46-73. ISBN 9780815412243.
  11. ^ a b c Lipsman, Samuel (1988). The Vietnam Experience War in the Shadows. Boston Publishing Company. p. 130-46. ISBN 9780939526383.
  12. ^ a b Hanhimaki, Jussi M (2004). The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. Oxford University Press. pp. 70–79. ISBN 9780195346749.
  13. ^ a b c d e Nalty, Bernard C. Nalty (1997). Air War Over South Vietnam, 1968-1975 (PDF). Air Force History and Museums Program. p. 199. ISBN 9780160509148.
  14. ^ Elisabeth Becker (27 May 2004). "Kissinger Tapes Describe Crises, War and Stark Photos of Abuse". New York Times.
  15. ^ a b Grandin, Greg (2015). Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman. Henry Holt and Company. pp. 53–60. ISBN 9781627794503.
  16. ^ Kahin, George (2003). Southeast Asia: A Testament. Psychology Press. pp. 311–3. ISBN 9780415299763.
  17. ^ Etcheson, Craig (1984). The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea. Westview. p. 118. ISBN 0-86531-650-3.
  18. ^ a b Morocco, John (1988). The Vietnam Experience: Rain of Fire: Air War, 1968-1975. Boston Publishing Company. p. 172. ISBN 9780939526147.
  19. ^ Lipsman, Samuel; Weiss, Stephen (1985). The Vietnam Experience The False Peace, 1972-4. Boston Publishing Company. p. 53. ISBN 9780939526154.
  20. ^ Ponniah, Kevin (9 September 2014). "US bombing defended". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  21. ^ "FRONTLINE/WORLD . Cambodia - Pol Pot's Shadow . Chronicle of Survival . 1969-1974: Caught in the crossfire | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  22. ^ Kiernan, Ben; Owen, Taylor (26 April 2015). "Making More Enemies than We Kill? Calculating U.S. Bomb Tonnages Dropped on Laos and Cambodia, and Weighing Their Implications". The Asia-Pacific Journal. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  23. ^ "Operation Freedom Deal". History Wars Weapons. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  24. ^ a b c Sliwinski, Marek (1995). Le Génocide Khmer Rouge: Une Analyse Démographique. L'Harmattan. pp. 42–43, 48.
  25. ^ Rummel, Rudolph. "Statistics Of Cambodian Democide: Estimates, Calculations, And Sources". Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  26. ^ "FRONTLINE/WORLD . Cambodia - Pol Pot's Shadow . Chronicle of Survival . 1969-1974: Caught in the crossfire | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  27. ^ Sharp, Bruce. "Counting Hell: The Death Toll of the Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia". Mekong.net. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  28. ^ "Mass Atrocity Endings | Documenting declines in civilian fatalities". sites.tufts.edu. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  29. ^ Banister, Judith; Johnson, E. Paige (1993). "After the Nightmare: The Population of Cambodia". Genocide and Democracy in Cambodia: The Khmer Rouge, the United Nations and the International Community. Yale University Southeast Asia Studies. p. 87. ISBN 9780938692492. An estimated 275,000 excess deaths. We have modeled the highest mortality we can justify for the early 1970s.
  30. ^ Heuveline, Patrick (2001). "The Demographic Analysis of Mortality in Cambodia". Forced Migration and Mortality. National Academy Press. pp. 102–104. ISBN 9780309073349. As best as can now be estimated, over two million Cambodians died during the 1970s because of the political events of the decade, the vast majority of them during the mere four years of the 'Khmer Rouge' regime. ... Subsequent reevaluations of the demographic data situated the death toll for the [civil war] in the order of 300,000 or less.
  31. ^ Kiernan, Ben (2004). How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930-1975. Yale University Press. p. xxiii. ISBN 9780300102628.


Published Government Documents

Cambodian Campaign

The Cambodian Campaign (also known as the Cambodian Incursion and the Cambodian Invasion) was a series of military operations conducted in eastern Cambodia during 1970 by the United States and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) as an extension of the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War. The invasions were a policy of President Richard Nixon; 13 major operations were conducted by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) between 29 April and 22 July and by US forces between 1 May and 30 June.

The objective of the campaign was the defeat of the approximately 40,000 troops of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Viet Cong (VC) in the eastern border regions of Cambodia. Cambodian neutrality and military weakness made its territory a safe zone where Vietnamese communist forces could establish bases for operations over the border. With the US shifting toward a policy of Vietnamization and withdrawal, it sought to shore up the South Vietnamese government by eliminating the cross-border threat.

A change in the Cambodian government allowed an opportunity to destroy the bases in 1970, when Prince Norodom Sihanouk was deposed and replaced by pro-US General Lon Nol. A series of South Vietnamese-Lon Nol operations had captured a few towns, but the Viet Cong military and political leadership had narrowly escaped the cordon. The operation was partly a response to a North Vietnamese offensive on 29 March against the Cambodian Army that captured large parts of eastern Cambodia in the wake of these operations. Allied military operations failed to eliminate many communist troops or to capture their elusive headquarters, known as the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN) as they had left a month prior, but the haul of captured material in Cambodia prompted claims of success.

Cambodian Civil War

The Cambodian Civil War (Khmer: សង្គ្រាមស៊ីវិលកម្ពុជា) was a military conflict that pitted the forces of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (known as the Khmer Rouge) and their allies the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the Viet Cong against the government forces of the Kingdom of Cambodia and, after October 1970, the Khmer Republic, which were supported by the United States (U.S.) and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

The struggle was complicated by the influence and actions of the allies of the two warring sides. North Vietnam's People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) involvement was designed to protect its Base Areas and sanctuaries in eastern Cambodia, without which the prosecution of its military effort in South Vietnam would have been more difficult. The Cambodian coup of 18 March 1970 put a pro-American, anti-North Vietnamese government in power and ended Cambodia's neutrality in the Vietnam War. The PAVN was now threatened by a newly unfriendly Cambodian government.

Between March and June 1970, the North Vietnamese moved many of its military installations further inside Cambodia in response to the coup and the establishment of a pro-American government, capturing most of the northeastern third of the country in engagements with the Cambodian army. The North Vietnamese turned over some of their conquests and provided other assistance to the Khmer Rouge, thus empowering what was at the time a small guerilla movement. The Cambodian government hastened to expand its army to combat the North Vietnamese and the growing power of the Khmer Rouge.The U.S. was motivated by the desire to buy time for its withdrawal from Southeast Asia, to protect its ally in South Vietnam, and to prevent the spread of communism to Cambodia. American and both South and North Vietnamese forces directly participated (at one time or another) in the fighting. The U.S. assisted the central government with massive U.S. aerial bombing campaigns and direct material and financial aid.

After five years of savage fighting, the Republican government was defeated on 17 April 1975 when the victorious Khmer Rouge proclaimed the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea. The war caused a refugee crisis in Cambodia with two million people—more than 25 percent of the population—displaced from rural areas into the cities, especially Phnom Penh which grew from about 600,000 in 1970 to an estimated population of nearly 2 million by 1975.

Children were widely used during and after the war, often being persuaded or forced to commit atrocities. The Cambodian government estimated that more than 20 percent of the property in the country had been destroyed during the war. In total, an estimated 275,000–310,000 people were killed as a result of the war.

The conflict was part of the Second Indochina War (1955–1975) which also consumed the neighboring Kingdom of Laos, South Vietnam, and North Vietnam individually referred to as the Laotian Civil War and the Vietnam War respectively. The Cambodian civil war led to the Cambodian Genocide, one of the bloodiest in history.

Cambodian genocide

The Cambodian genocide (Khmer: ហាយនភាពខ្មែរ or ការប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ខ្មែរ) was carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime under the leadership of Pol Pot, and it resulted in the deaths of between 1.671 and 1.871 million people from 1975 to 1979, or 21 to 24 percent of Cambodia’s 1975 population. The Khmer Rouge wanted to turn the country into a socialist agrarian republic, founded on the policies of ultra-Maoism. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge changed the name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea. In order to fulfill their goals, the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and forced Cambodians to relocate to labor camps in the countryside, where mass executions, forced labor, physical abuse, malnutrition, and disease were prevalent. This resulted in the death of approximately 25 percent of Cambodia's total population. Approximately 20,000 people passed through the Tuol Sleng Centre (also known as Security Prison S-21), one of the 196 prisons operated by the Khmer Rouge, and only 7 adults survived. The prisoners were taken to the Killing Fields, where they were executed (often with pickaxes in order to save bullets) and buried in mass graves. The abduction and indoctrination of children was widespread, and many were persuaded or forced to commit atrocities. The genocide triggered a second outflow of refugees, many of whom escaped to neighboring Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, Thailand. The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia ended the genocide by defeating the Khmer Rouge in 1979.On 2 January 2001, the Cambodian government established the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, to try the members of the Khmer Rouge leadership responsible for the Cambodian genocide. Trials began on 17 February 2009. On 7 August 2014, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were convicted and received life sentences for crimes against humanity during the genocide. As of 2009, the Cambodian NGO Documentation Center of Cambodia has mapped some 23,745 mass graves containing approximately 1.3 million suspected victims of execution. Direct execution is believed to account for roughly 60% of the full death toll during the genocide, with other victims succumbing to starvation or disease.

Heavy bomber

Heavy bombers are bomber aircraft capable of delivering the largest payload of air-to-ground weaponry (usually bombs) and longest range of their era. Archetypal heavy bombers have therefore usually been among the largest and most powerful military aircraft at any point in time. In the second half of the 20th century, heavy bombers were largely superseded by strategic bombers, which were often smaller in size, but were capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Because of advances in aircraft design and engineering — especially in powerplants and aerodynamics — the size of payloads carried by heavy bombers have increased at rates greater than increases in the size of their airframes. The largest bombers of World War I, the four engine aircraft built by the Zeppelin-Staaken company in Germany, could carry a payload of up to 4,400 pounds (2,000 kg) of bombs. By the middle of World War II even a single-engine fighter-bomber could carry a 2,000-pound (910 kg) bomb load, and such aircraft were taking over from light and medium bombers in the tactical bombing role. Advancements in four-engine aircraft design enabled heavy bombers to carry even larger payloads to targets thousands of kilometres away. For instance, the Avro Lancaster (introduced in 1942) routinely delivered payloads of 14,000 pounds (6,400 kg) (and sometimes up to 22,000 lb/10,000 kg) and had a range of 2,530 miles (4,070 km). The B-29 (1944) delivered payloads in excess of 20,000 pounds (9,100 kg) and had a range of 3,250 miles (5,230 km). By the early 1960s, the jet-powered Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, travelling at speeds of up to 650 miles per hour (1,050 km/h) (i.e., more than double that of a Lancaster), could deliver a payload of 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg), over a combat radius of 4,480 miles (7,210 km).

During World War II, mass production techniques made available large, long-range heavy bombers in such quantities as to allow strategic bombing campaigns to be developed and employed. This culminated in August 1945, when B-29s of the United States Army Air Forces dropped atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, contributing significantly to the end of hostilities.

The arrival of nuclear weapons and guided missiles permanently changed the nature of military aviation and strategy. After the 1950s intercontinental ballistic missiles and ballistic missile submarines began to supersede heavy bombers in the strategic nuclear role. Along with the emergence of more accurate precision-guided munitions ("smart bombs") and nuclear-armed missiles, which could be carried and delivered by smaller aircraft, these technological advancements eclipsed the heavy bomber's once-central role in strategic warfare by the late 20th century. Heavy bombers have, nevertheless, been used to deliver conventional weapons in several regional conflicts since World War II (e.g., B-52s in the Vietnam War).

Heavy bombers are now operated only by the air forces of the United States, Russia and China. They serve in both strategic and tactical bombing roles.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1970)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1970, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the Khmer Republic, the United States and their allies.

List of battles and other violent events by death toll

This page lists mortalities from battles and individual military operations or acts of violence, sorted by death toll. For wars and events more extensive in scope, see List of wars and disasters by death toll. For natural disasters, see List of natural disasters by death toll.

List of bombing campaigns of the Vietnam War

The bombing campaigns of the Vietnam War were the longest and heaviest aerial bombardment in history. The United States Air Force, the U. S. Navy, and U. S. Marine Corps aviation dropped 7,662,000 tons of explosives. By comparison, U. S. forces dropped a total of 2,150,000 tons of bombs in all theaters of World War II.

Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group

Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was a highly classified, multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations prior to and during the Vietnam War.

Established on 24 January 1964, the unit conducted strategic reconnaissance missions in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), Laos, and Cambodia; carried out the capture of enemy prisoners, rescued downed pilots, and conducted rescue operations to retrieve prisoners of war throughout Southeast Asia; and conducted clandestine agent team activities and psychological operations.

The unit participated in most of the significant campaigns of the Vietnam War, including the Gulf of Tonkin incident which precipitated increased American involvement, Operation Steel Tiger, Operation Tiger Hound, the Tet Offensive, Operation Commando Hunt, the Cambodian Campaign, Operation Lam Son 719, and the Easter Offensive. The unit was formally disbanded and replaced by the Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team 158 on 1 May 1972.

Norodom Sihanouk

Norodom Sihanouk (Khmer: នរោត្តម សីហនុ; 31 October 1922 – 15 October 2012) was a Cambodian royal leader, politician, composer and filmmaker who was twice the King and numerous times the Prime Minister of Cambodia. In Cambodia, he is also known as Samdech Euv (Khmer: សម្តេចឪ, father prince). Until the early years of his rule, his family ruled over the French Protectorate of Cambodia.

Born to the later King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak, Sihanouk became king upon the death of his maternal grandfather King Sisowath Monivong in 1941. After the Japanese occupation of Cambodia during the Second World War, Sihanouk secured Cambodian independence from France in 1953. In 1955, he abdicated the throne and formed the political organization Sangkum, which won the 1955 general election. As Prime Minister, he governed Cambodia under one-party rule, suppressed political dissent, and declared himself Head of State in 1960. Officially neutral in foreign relations, in practice he was closer to the communist bloc. A 1970 military coup ousted him and paved the way for the U.S.-backed Khmer Republic. Sihanouk fled to China and North Korea, there forming a government-in-exile and resistance movement. After the Cambodian Civil War resulted in victory for the Khmer Rouge in 1975, Sihanouk returned to Cambodia, renamed Democratic Kampuchea, as its figurehead head of state. Although initially supportive of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, his relations with them declined and in 1976 he resigned. He was placed under house arrest until 1979, when Vietnamese forces overthrew the Khmer Rouge.

Sihanouk went into exile again, and in 1981, he formed FUNCINPEC, a resistance party. The following year, Sihanouk became President of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), a broad coalition of anti-Vietnamese resistance factions. This coalition retained Cambodia's seat at the United Nations, making Sihanouk Cambodia's internationally recognized head of state. In the late 1980s, informal talks were carried out to end hostilities between the Vietnam-supported People's Republic of Kampuchea and the CGDK. In 1990, the Supreme National Council of Cambodia was formed as a transitional body to oversee Cambodia's sovereign matters, with Sihanouk as its president. In 1991, peace accords were signed and the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was established the following year. The UNTAC organised general elections in 1993, and a coalition government, jointly led by his son Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen, was subsequently formed. In 1993, Sihanouk was reinstated as Cambodia's Head of State and King. In 2004, he abdicated again with his son, Norodom Sihamoni, elected as his successor. He died in 2012.

Operation Commando Hunt

Operation Commando Hunt was a covert U.S. Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 aerial interdiction campaign that took place during the Vietnam War. The operation began on 11 November 1968 and ended on 29 March 1972. The objective of the campaign was to prevent the transit of People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) personnel and supplies on the logistical corridor known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese) that ran from the southwestern Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) through the southeastern portion of the Kingdom of Laos and into the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

Operation Menu

Operation Menu was the codename of a covert United States Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombing campaign conducted in eastern Cambodia from 18 March 1969 until 26 May 1970 as part of both the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War. The targets of these attacks were sanctuaries and Base Areas of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN — commonly referred to during the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army [NVA]) and forces of the Viet Cong (NLF), which utilized them for resupply, training, and resting between campaigns across the border in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The impact of the bombing campaign on the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the PAVN, and Cambodian civilians in the bombed areas is disputed by historians.

An official United States Air Force record of U.S. bombing activity over Indochina from 1964 to 1973 was declassified by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000. The report gives details of the extent of the bombing of Cambodia, as well as of Laos and Vietnam. According to the data, the Air Force began bombing the rural regions of Cambodia along its South Vietnam border in 1965 under the Johnson administration; this was four years earlier than previously believed. The Menu bombings were an escalation of what had previously been tactical air attacks. Newly inaugurated President Richard Nixon authorized for the first time use of long range B-52 heavy bombers to carpet bomb Cambodia.

Operation Freedom Deal immediately followed Operation Menu. Under Freedom Deal, B-52 bombing was expanded to a much larger area of Cambodia and continued until August 1973.

Operation Patio

Operation Patio was a covert aerial interdiction effort conducted by the U.S. Seventh Air Force in Cambodia from 24–29 April 1970 during the Vietnam War. It served as a tactical adjunct to the heavier B-52 Stratofortress bombing missions being carried out in Operation Menu.

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.

Presidency of Richard Nixon

The presidency of Richard Nixon began on January 20, 1969, when Richard Nixon was inaugurated as the 37th President of the United States, and ended on August 9, 1974 when he resigned from office, the first (and to date only) U.S. president ever to do so. A Republican, Nixon took office after the 1968 presidential election, in which he defeated Hubert Humphrey, the then–incumbent Vice President. Four years later, in 1972, he won reelection in a landslide victory over U.S. Senator George McGovern.

Nixon, the 37th United States president, succeeded Lyndon B. Johnson, who had launched the Great Society, a set of domestic programs financed and run by the federal government. In contrast, Nixon advocated a "New Federalism" domestic program model, one in which certain powers would devolve back to the states. The creation of the EPA, passage of the Endangered Species Act, and the integration of Southern public schools happened during his presidency, as did the end of military draft and the Apollo program, which successfully landed Americans on the Moon.

Nixon's primary focus while in office was on foreign affairs. His foreign policy agenda, known as the Nixon Doctrine, called for indirect assistance to American allies in the Cold War, with the "Vietnamization" of the Vietnam War being the most notable example of this policy. Nixon ended American involvement in the Vietnam War, and his administration succeeded in achieving a negotiated settlement. Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit the People's Republic of China, taking advantage of the Sino-Soviet split and significantly altering the nature of the Cold War. Nixon also pursued a strategy of detente with the Soviet Union, resulting in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and SALT I, the first two landmark arms control treaties of their kind.

Beginning in 1973, Nixon was forced to devote increasing attention to the Watergate scandal that enveloped his administration. He resigned from office in the face of near-certain impeachment. He was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford, who had become vice president nine months earlier, following Spiro Agnew's resignation from office.

While Nixon's premature departure from office tends to dominate contemporary assessments of his presidency – and Nixon's domestic and foreign policy accomplishments are largely overshadowed by the scandals that enveloped his administration – his legacy has undergone reevaluation in the more than 40 years since his resignation. Political historian and pollster Douglas Schoen argues that Nixon was the most important American figure in post-war U.S. politics, while constitutional law professor Cass Sunstein noted in 2017, "If you are listing the five most consequential Presidents in American history, you could make a good argument that Nixon belongs on the list."

Schlesinger v. Holtzman

Schlesinger v. Holtzman, 414 U.S. 1321 (1973), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the Constitution's War Powers Clause. The Court reversed a ruling by Justice William O. Douglas ordering the military to stop bombing Cambodia.

Sihanouk Trail

The Sihanouk Trail was a logistical supply system in Cambodia used by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and its Viet Cong (VC) guerillas during the Vietnam War (1960–1975). Between 1966 and 1970, this system operated in the same manner and served the same purposes as the much better known Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese) which ran through the southeastern portion of the Kingdom of Laos. The name is of American derivation, since the North Vietnamese considered the system integral to the supply route mentioned above. U.S. attempts to interdict this system began in 1969.

Strategic bomber

A strategic bomber is a medium to long range penetration bomber aircraft designed to drop large amounts of air-to-ground weaponry onto a distant target for the purposes of debilitating the enemy's capacity to wage war. Unlike tactical bombers, penetrators, fighter-bombers, and attack aircraft, which are used in air interdiction operations to attack enemy combatants and military equipment, strategic bombers are designed to fly into enemy territory to destroy strategic targets (e.g., infrastructure, logistics, military installations, factories, and cities). In addition to strategic bombing, strategic bombers can be used for tactical missions. There are currently two countries that operate strategic bombers: the United States and Russia.The modern strategic bomber role appeared after strategic bombing was widely employed, and atomic bombs were first used in combat during World War II. Nuclear strike missions (i.e., delivering nuclear-armed missiles or bombs) can potentially be carried out by most modern fighter-bombers and strike fighters, even at intercontinental range, with the use of aerial refueling, so any nation possessing this combination of equipment and techniques theoretically has such capability. Primary delivery aircraft for a modern strategic bombing mission need not always necessarily be a heavy bomber type, and any modern aircraft capable of nuclear strikes at long range is equally able to carry out tactical missions with conventional weapons. An example is France's Mirage IV, a small strategic bomber replaced in service by the ASMP-equipped Mirage 2000N fighter-bomber and Rafale multirole fighter.

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.

American military advisors began arriving in what was then French Indochina in 1950 to support the French in the First Indochina War against the communist-led Viet Minh. Most of the funding for the French war effort was provided by the U.S. After the French quit Indochina in 1954, the US assumed financial and military responsibility for the South Vietnamese state. The Việt Cộng, also known as Front national de libération du Sud-Viêt Nam or NLF (the National Liberation Front), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, initiated a

guerrilla war against the South Vietnamese government in 1959. U.S. involvement escalated in 1960, and continued in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy, with troop levels gradually surging under the MAAG program from just under a thousand in 1959 to 16,000 in 1963.By 1964, there were 23,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam, but this escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U.S. destroyer was alleged to have clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft. In response, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authorization to increase U.S. military presence, deploying ground combat units for the first time and increasing troop levels to 184,000. Past this point, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) engaged in more conventional warfare with US and South Vietnamese forces. Every year onward there was significant build-up of US forces despite little progress, with Robert McNamara, one of the principal architects of the war, beginning to express doubts of victory by the end of 1966. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes. The U.S. conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam. The Tet Offensive of 1968, proved to be the turning point of the war; despite years of American tutelage and aid the South Vietnamese forces were unable to withstand the communist offensive and the task fell to US forces instead. The Tet Offensive showed that the end of US involvement was not in sight, increasing domestic skepticism of the war. The unconventional and conventional capabilities of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) increased following a period of neglect and became modeled on heavy firepower-focused doctrines like US forces. Operations crossed international borders; bordering areas of Laos and Cambodia were used by North Vietnam as supply routes and were heavily bombed by U.S. forces.

Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began as part of "Vietnamization", which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the communists to the South Vietnamese themselves and began the task of modernizing their armed forces. Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973 as a result of the Case–Church Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress. The capture of Saigon by the NVA in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities (see Vietnam War casualties). Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3.8 million. Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict, and a further 1,626 remain missing in action. The Sino-Soviet split re-emerged following the lull during the Vietnam War and confllict between North Vietnam and its Cambodian allies in the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea, and the newly-formed Democratic Kampuchea begun almost immediately in a series of border raids by the Khmer Rouge and erupted into the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, with Chinese forces directly intervening in the Sino-Vietnamese War. The end of the war and resumption of the Third Indochina War would precipitate the Vietnamese boat people and the bigger Indochina refugee crisis, which saw an estimated 250,000 people perish at sea. Within the US the war gave rise to what was referred to as Vietnam Syndrome, a public aversion to American overseas military involvements, which together with Watergate contributed to the crisis of confidence that affected America throughout the 1970s.

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