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.

Operation Patio
Part of Vietnam War

B-52 over Cambodia
Date24 to 29 April 1970
Eastern Cambodia
Flag of the United States.svg United States Flag of Vietnam.svg Democratic Republic of Vietnam
Flag of Democratic Kampuchea.svg Khmer Rouge


On 18 March 1970, Cambodia's chief of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, was overthrown by the National Assembly led by the pro-American Defense Minister, General Lon Nol). The government (after negotiating with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) had promptly demanded the removal of all People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) troops from its territory. The deadline was set for 13 March.[1] These forces had occupied the eastern border region contiguous with the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) for the previous ten years.[2] These border sanctuaries and Base Areas were of strategic significance to the North Vietnamese effort in South Vietnam, however, and they were not going to give them up without a fight.

General Creighton Abrams, U.S. commander in Saigon was pleased by the turn of events in Cambodia. Although Lon Nol had not immediately attacked PAVN, he was much more amenable to the U.S. than had been the mercurial Sihanouk. For the past year and half, Abrams had also been bombarded by requests for the authorization of airstrikes by the highly-secret Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group or SOG. SOG's reconnaissance teams had been conducting operations "over the fence" in Cambodia for three years but could still not obtain close air support, either to cover their operations or to strike lucrative PAVN logistical targets in the Base Areas.[3]

Operation Patio

On 18 April, Abrams requested authority from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to utilize U.S. tactical aircraft based in South Vietnam for a 30-day period. These aircraft would be acting in concert with Operation Menu, the highly classified bombing of PAVN sanctuaries and Base Areas in eastern Cambodia by USAF B-52 bombers. Two days later the Joint Chiefs granted his request.[4] All communications and messages concerning the operation were to be sent through special, secure channels and aircraft conducting the missions were assigned cover targets in Laos in the same way that the B-52s of Menu were assigned false targets in South Vietnam.[4]

The first strike of the operation was launched on 24 April and plans called for the operation to last for only 30 days, until the third week of May. The aircraft were authorized to strike targets in northeastern Cambodia extending 8 miles (13 km) west of the South Vietnamese border. On 25 April, the boundary was extended to a depth of 18 miles (29 km).[4] The onset of the Cambodian Campaign by U.S. and South Vietnamese forces on 29 April forced an early termination on 4 May after only 156 had been flown.[4][5] Operation Patio was quickly superseded by the much more extensive and destructive Operation Freedom Deal.


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

  1. ^ Sat, Sutsakhan (1987). The Khmer Republic at War and the Final Collapse (PDF). United States Army Center of Military History. p. 59.
  2. ^ Shawcross, William (1979). Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia. Washington Square Books. p. 64-8. ISBN 9780815412243.
  3. ^ Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Command History 1967, Annex F, Saigon, 1968, p. 4.
  4. ^ a b c d Nalty, Bernard (2000). Air War over South Vietnam, 1968 - 1975 (PDF). Air Force Museums and History Program. p. 185. ISBN 9780160509148.
  5. ^ Lipsman, Samuel; Paschall, Rod (1988). The Vietnam Experience War in the Shadows. Boston Publishing Company. p. 146. ISBN 9780939526383.
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.

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 allied military operations of the Vietnam War (M–S)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War, a war fought by the United States to try to stop communism in Southeast Asia, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and allies consisting of Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, and the Philippines. This is not a complete list. Operations are currently listed alphabetically, but are being progressively reorganised as a chronology.

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.

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.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.

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.

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.

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