Operation Junction City was an 82-day military operation conducted by United States and Republic of Vietnam (RVN or South Vietnam) forces begun on 22 February 1967 during the Vietnam War. It was the largest U.S. airborne operation since Operation Varsity in March 1945, the largest airborne operation of the Vietnam War, and one of the largest U.S. operations of the war. The operation was named after Junction City, Kansas, home of the operation's commanding officer.
|Operation Junction City|
|Part of the Vietnam War|
Cedar Falls/Junction City area of operations
|Commanders and leaders|
Bruce Palmer Jr.
Cao Văn Viên
Hoàng Văn Thái|
Lê Đức Anh
|Casualties and losses|
3 tanks destroyed
22 AFVs destroyed
5 howitzers destroyed
13,500 U.S./ARVN killed or wounded
800 armored vehicles destroyed
119 howitzers destroyed
US body count: 2,728 killed|
591 weapons recovered
The stated aim of the almost three-month engagement involving the equivalent of nearly three divisions of U.S. troops was to locate the elusive 'headquarters' of the Communist uprising in South Vietnam, the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN). By some accounts of U.S. analysts at the time, such a headquarters was believed to be almost a "mini-Pentagon," complete with typists, file cabinets, and staff workers possibly guarded by layers of bureaucracy. In truth, after the end of the war, the actual headquarters was revealed by Viet Cong (VC) archives to be a small and mobile group of people, often sheltering in ad hoc facilities and at one point escaping an errant bombing by some hundreds of meters.
Junction City's grand tactical plan was a "hammer and anvil" tactic, whereupon airborne forces would "flush out" the VC headquarters, sending them to retreat against a prepared "anvil" of other forces. The U.S. forces included most of the 1st Infantry Division and the 25th Infantry Division including the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, the airborne troops of the 173rd Airborne Brigade and large armored elements of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (11th ACR).
II Field Force, Vietnam started the operation on 22 February 1967 (while Operation Cedar Falls was winding down). The initial operation was carried out by the 1st (commanded by Major General William E. DePuy) and the 25th (commanded by Major General Frederick C. Weyand) infantry divisions, who led their forces to the north of the operational area to build the "anvil" on which the VC 9th Division would be crushed. At the same time as the movement of infantry (eight battalions with 249 helicopters) along with 845 paratroopers conducted the only mass jump of the Vietnam War and the largest since Operation Tomahawk of the Korean War. The 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment of the 173d Airborne Brigade, went into action west of the deployment of the 1st and the 25th Infantry Divisions.
At first the operations appeared to be succeeding, objectives were reached without encountering great resistance and on February 23, the mechanized forces 11th ACR and the 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, the "hammer" of armor struck against the '"anvil" of the infantry and airborne positioned north and west, giving the VC forces seemingly no chance to escape. The VC, highly mobile and elusive, with information sources deep in the South Vietnamese bureaucracy, had already moved their headquarters to Cambodia and launched several attacks to inflict losses and wear down the Americans. On February 28 and March 10 there were engagements with U.S. forces at the Battle of Prek Klok I and the Battle of Prek Klok II where the US, supported by powerful air strikes and massive artillery support repulsed VC attacks but the strategic result was disappointing.
On 18 March 1967, General Bruce Palmer Jr., new commander of II Field Force, Vietnam, after General Seaman, launched the second phase of Junction City, this time directly to the east by the mechanized divisions, the 1st Infantry Division and 11th ACR, reinforced this time from the 1st Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division. This maneuver gave rise to the toughest battle of the operation, the March 19 Battle of Ap Bau Bang II, where the VC 273rd Regiment put into difficulties the American armored cavalry, before being forced to retire by a huge amount of firepower.
The VC launched two more attacks in force, on March 21 and in Ap Gu on April 1, against the 1st and the 25th Infantry Division, both assaults were bloodily repulsed and the VC 9th Division came out seriously weakened, though still able to fight or retreat to safety in areas adjacent to the Cambodian border. On April 16 the U.S. command of II Field Force, in agreement with the MACV, decided to continue operations with a third phase of Operation Junction City. Until May 14 certain units of the 25th Infantry Division, undertook long and exhausting searches, advancing in the bush, raking villages and retrieving large amounts of materiel but with little contact with the Communist units, now cautiously moved to a defensive footing.
Tay Ninh Province was picked over thoroughly and VC forces suffered significant losses, including large amounts of material captured: 810 tonnes of rice, 600 tonnes of small arms, 500,000 pages of documents. The American losses were not negligible, however, amounting to nearly 300 dead and over 1,500 injured.
According to calculations by the American command, the VC 9th Division was seriously weakened by the operations, suffering the loss of 2,728 killed, 34 captured men and 139 deserters. 100 crew-served weapons and 491 individual weapons were captured.
After the operations, the American forces were recalled to other areas of operation, and the country which was supposed to be in the firm control of the South Vietnamese government soon fell prey again to infiltration by the VC forces when they returned from their sanctuaries in Cambodia.
When American troops found in some stores 120 reels of film and logistical equipment for the printing of documents, the command of MACV believed they had finally found the famous COSVN. However, the reality was very different. The mobile headquarters, commanded by some mysterious and famous personalities such as generals Thanh, Tran Van Tran and Do, had quickly retreated to Cambodia, maintaining its operations and confounding the hopes of the U.S. strategic planners.
With a huge consumption of resources and equipment, including 366,000 rounds of artillery and 3,235 tons of bombs, the American forces had inflicted losses on the communist forces and demonstrated the ability of airborne forces and even mechanized forces (also useful in impervious territory). Despite the tactical results, Junction City on an operational level had missed the most important objective as well as a failure to yield long term strategic leverage.:105
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment ("Blackhorse Regiment") is a unit of the United States Army garrisoned at Fort Irwin, California. Although termed an armored cavalry regiment, it is being re-organized as a multi-component heavy brigade combat team. The regiment has served in the Philippine–American War, World War II, the Vietnam War, Cold War, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq War). The 11th ACR serves as the Opposing Force (OPFOR) for the Army and Marine task forces, and foreign military forces that train at the National Training Center.
The OPFOR trained U.S. Army forces in mechanized desert warfare following a Soviet-era style threat until June 2002, when the OPFOR and the 11th ACR changed to portraying an urban/asymmetrical warfare style of combat U.S. soldiers are facing in operations abroad. From June to December 2003, members of the 11th ACR deployed to Afghanistan, where they helped to develop and train the armor and mechanized infantry battalions of the Afghan National Army. These specialized units would defend the Afghan capital during the country's constitutional convention. In January 2004, the 11th ACR deployed to Iraq. The 11th ACR was not reorganized under the U.S. Army Combat Arms Regimental System, but has been reorganized under the U.S. Army Regimental System.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.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.3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment
The 3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment ("3–319th AFAR") is the field artillery battalion that directly supports the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Known as the "Gun Devils", 3–319th AFAR has participated in battles from World War I to the current day, and is one of the most highly decorated field artillery units in the United States Army. The battalion's mission is "3-319th AFAR stands ready to deploy worldwide within 18 hours of notification, execute a parachute assault and conduct full-spectrum operations. Specifically, the battalion will provide responsive lethal and nonlethal fires in support of forcible entry and airfield seizure, and integrate and synchronize the effects of fires to achieve the 1BCT commander's intent."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 Prek Klok I
The Battle of Prek Klok I occurred on February 28, 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. A few days before the battle, the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment was brought into the area near Suoi Da and Prek Klok to defend a highway, airfield, and artillery base in the area, and to carry out search and destroy operations around it. On the morning of 28 February, elements of the battalion headed east, and were attacked from the front by Viet Cong (VC) infantry with gunfire, rockets and mortars. Soon after, they were attacked from all fronts as the VC tried to surround them with a battalion-sized force. However, with superior firepower available, the Americans called in air strikes and artillery, and by mid afternoon, had repelled the VC attacks. The Americans lost 25 killed while the VC lost 167.Battle of Prek Klok II
The Battle of Prek Klok II occurred on March 10, 1967, during Operation Junction City when American military forces were conducting a search and destroy operation against the Viet Cong (VC) forces in Tay Ninh Province west of the capital of South Vietnam, Saigon. During the course of the operation they had already had a significant engagement in the Battle of Prek Klok I. During the night, Artillery Fire Support Patrol Base II at Prek Klok was attacked by two communist battalions, resulting in a short battle. This was the second major battle of Operation Junction City. The VC started by mortaring the base and launching anti-tank fire at the M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs) surrounding the base. Attacks came from the north and east, followed by an infantry charge out of wooded areas from the southwest. With the help of air strikes from nearby planes, as well as artillery and ample supplies flown in by helicopter, the Americans easily repelled the communist attack. The Americans killed 197 VC but lost only three of their men.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.Battleplan
Battleplan is a 2006 military television documentary series examining various military strategies used in modern warfare since World War I. It is shown on the Military Channel in the U.S. and Yesterday. Each episode looks at particular military strategy – or "battleplan" – through two well-known historical examples, gauging them against the ideal requirements necessary to successfully conduct that strategy. All the episodes use examples from modern warfare, dating from the First World War (1914–18) up to the Iraq War (2003). Lloyd Clark (Royal Military Academy Sandhurst) and Bruce Gudmundsson (US Army War College) analyze the information and talk about it on the show.Catherine Leroy
Catherine Leroy (August 27, 1944 - July 8, 2006) was a French-born photojournalist and war photographer, whose stark images of battle illustrated the story of the Vietnam War in the pages of Life magazine and other publications.Junction City
Junction City is the name of several places in the United States of America:
Junction City, Arkansas
Junction City, California
Junction City, Georgia
Junction City, Illinois
Junction City, Kansas
Junction City, Kentucky
Junction City, Louisiana
Junction City, Missouri
Junction City, Ohio
Junction City, Oregon
Junction City, Washington
Junction City, WisconsinMichelin Rubber Plantation
Michelin Rubber Plantation was located near Dầu Tiếng District in Bình Dương Province, 72 km northwest of Saigon. The plantation was established by the Michelin company in 1925 and at 12,400 hectares (31,000 acres) it was the largest rubber plantation in Vietnam. The plantation was located approximately halfway between the Cambodia border and Saigon and so was an important base and staging area for the Viet Cong and later the PAVN. The plantation was an important source of revenue for the South Vietnamese Government and it was believed that the Michelin Company paid off the Vietcong in order to keep the plantation operating during the war. US forces were obliged to compensate Michelin for damage caused to the rubber trees during operations in the plantation.
US and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces conducted frequent operations against PAVN and VC forces in the plantation. On the evening of 27 November 1965 the ARVN 7th Regiment, 5th Division was overrun by the VC 272nd Regiment, killing most of the Regiment and 5 US advisers. From 21 to 27 February 1966 the 2nd and 3rd Brigades, 1st Infantry Division conducted Operation Mastiff, a search and destroy operation in and around the plantation. From 22 February to 14 May 1967 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, 196th Infantry Brigade, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, VNMC 1st and 5th Battalions and ARVN 35th and 36th Ranger Battalions conducted Operation Junction City which included operations in the plantation. From 17 May to 7 December 1967, the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division conducted Operation Diamond Head, a search and destroy operation in the Plantation and surrounding areas. In August and September 1968, known as the Phase III Offensive in reference to the third wave of PAVN attacks after the Tet Offensive the plantation was the scene of fighting between US forces and the PAVN. From 17 to 24 March 1969 the 1st Infantry Division, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 1/4th Cavalry conducted Operation Atlas Wedge in the plantation.
In 1975 after the fall of Saigon, first the plantation and then the factory in Saigon was nationalized by the communist government.Operation Cedar Falls
Operation Cedar Falls was a military operation of the Vietnam War conducted primarily by US forces that took place from 8 to 26 January 1967. The aim of the massive search and destroy operation was to eradicate the so-called "Iron Triangle", an area northwest Saigon that had become a major stronghold of the Viet Cong (VC).
It was the largest American ground operation of the Vietnam war: Two Army divisions, one infantry and one paratrooper brigade, and one armored cavalry regiment participated in the operation. Altogether, it involved 30,000 US and South Vietnamese troops. The VC, however, chose to evade the massive military force by fleeing across the border to Cambodia or by hiding in a complex system of underground tunnels. Still, the Allied forces uncovered and destroyed some of the tunnel complexes as well as large stockpiles of VC supplies. In the course of the operation, so-called tunnel rats were introduced to infiltrate the Viet Cong's tunnel systems.In an attempt at the permanent destruction of the Iron Triangle as a VC stronghold, Operation Cedar Falls also entailed the complete deportation of the region's civilian population to so-called New Life Villages, the destruction of their homes, and the defoliation of whole areas. Following this, the area was declared a free-fire zone and adults who were found in the zone following deportations were considered "enemy combatants" afterwards.Most senior officers involved in planning and executing the operation later evaluated it as a success. Most journalists and military historians, however, paint a bleaker picture. They argue that Cedar Falls failed to achieve its main goal since the VC's setback in the Iron Triangle proved to be only temporary. Moreover, critics argue that the harsh treatment of the civilian population was both morally questionable and detrimental to the US effort to win Vietnamese hearts and minds and drove many into the ranks of the VC instead. Therefore, some authors cite Operation Cedar Falls as a major example for the misconceptions of the US strategy in Vietnam and for its morally-troublesome consequences.Operation Gadsden
Operation Gadsden was an operation conducted by the 25th Infantry Division in Tây Ninh Province, lasting from 2 to 21 February 1967.Operation Junction City Jr.
Operation Junction City Jr. was a major Laotian offensive of the Vietnam War; initially aimed at temporary disruption of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, it was extended into an attempt to isolate the major North Vietnamese communist transshipment point at Tchepone from the units it was supposed to supply.
After an initial blooding from 23–27 March 1969 during Operation Duck, three Royal Lao Army irregular battalions trained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were launched on Operation Junction City Jr. On 28 July 1969, a Royalist force occupied the airfield at Vang Tai, to begin the offensive. Moving out in August under tactical air cover directed by Raven FACs and Nail FACs, elements of the Royalist force captured the Route 9/23 road junction near Pathet Lao-held Moung Phine on 4 September. After capturing Moung Phine, the Royalists extended the campaign in an attempt to neutralize Tchepone during September, foreshadowing the future Operation Lam Son 719. By 17 October 1969, Operation Junction City Jr. had been pushed back to its point of departure; however, it had destroyed supplies sufficient to have kept a communist division in the field.Operation Left Jab
Operation Left Jab was the first military offensive launched against the Sihanouk Trail extension of the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Second Indochina War. It was the first battalion-sized operation waged by the Royal Lao Army against the communists. Carried out between 21 and 26 June 1969, the assault interdicted Route 110 of the Sihanouk Trail for its planned three-day stoppage of military supplies. The Royalist guerrillas of Special Guerrilla Unit 2 then evaded an approaching counterattack and regrouped in friendly territory. Operation Left Jab had cleared the way for Operation Diamond Arrow.Operation Yellowstone (Vietnam)
Operation Yellowstone was an operation conducted by the 1st and 3rd Brigades, 25th Infantry Division in northeast Tây Ninh Province, lasting from 8 December 1967 to 24 February 1968.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."Second battle of Bàu Bàng
The second Battle of Bàu Bàng occurred during the night of 19–20 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.
Forces from the 5th Cavalry Regiment were entrusted with the securing of Fire Support Base 20, around 1.5 km north of the village of Bàu Bàng, and they had expected an attack, as their area was a known Viet Cong (VC) stronghold. During the evening of 19 March, the VC 9th Division attacked the base with machine guns, mortars, rockets and small arms fire. The mortars fired from afar while a large number of infantrymen dressed in black charged from the foliage. Initially, they swarmed over the American armored vehicles, but were dispersed by the vehicles shooting on one another, although some of the vehicles were destroyed. With the help of artillery and air strikes, as well as flares and aerial searchlights to spot their enemies, the Americans repelled the Viet Cong. They claimed 227 VC killed and captured three, while losing 3 and suffering 63 wounded.
Easter Offensive (1972)
Post-Paris Peace Accords (1973–1974)