Operation Quyet Thang

Operation Quyet Thang ("Resolved to win"), was a United States Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) security operation to reestablish South Vietnamese control over the areas immediately around Saigon in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive. The operation started on 11 March 1968 and ended on 7 April 1968.

Background

While their Tet Offensive attacks on Saigon had been quickly repulsed, in early March, more than 20 Vietcong (VC) battalions remained near Gia Định Province, threatening the city. The 101st Regiment, the Đồng Nai Regiment and elements of the 165th Regiment were in southern Bình Dương Province, north of Saigon. Several battalions were in Thủ Đức District northeast of Saigon. Five or 6 unidentified battalions were in Long An Province southwest of Saigon. The 271st and 272nd Regiments of the 9th Division, the D16, 267th, and 269th Main Force Battalions were in eastern Hậu Nghĩa Province northwest of Saigon. While most of these units had suffered heavy losses in the Tet Offensive, their continued presence applied pressure on Saigon and prevented the reestablishment of South Vietnamese Government control.[1]:460-1

COMUSMACV General William Westmoreland instructed II Field Force commander LTG Frederick C. Weyand and ARVN III Corps commander LTG Lê Nguyên Khang to sweep the districts surrounding Saigon. The 1st, 9th and 25th Infantry Divisions supported by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (11th ACR) would provide most of the maneuver battalions, with subordinate units in many cases pairing up with ARVN units. The 199th Light Infantry Brigade, worked with the elite South Vietnamese Marine Brigade and the Airborne Division in Gia Định Province. The 2nd and 3rd Brigades, 1st Infantry Division partnered with the ARVN 7th and 8th Regiments, 5th Infantry Division in Bình Dương Province. The 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division partnered with the ARVN 50th Regiment in Long An Province. The 3rd Squadron, 11th ACR moved into southeastern Hậu Nghĩa Province to support the ARVN 49th Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. The 2nd and 3rd Brigades, 25th Infantry Division worked with a cavalry squadron from the ARVN 25th Infantry Division and territorial units in northern and western Hậu Nghĩa Province.[1]:460–1

Operation

The operation commenced on 11 March. On 12 March, Troop M, 3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry and an ARVN Regional Force company engaged more than 100 VC from the 267th and 269th Battalions in forest 6km north of Đức Hòa in eastern Hậu Nghĩa Province. The Allied force killed 36 VC and captured 10.[1]:462

From 15–17 March the 3rd Squadron, 11th ACR and ARVN forces engaged the 272nd Regiment between Đức Hòa and Củ Chi, killing 273 VC before losing contact. On 20 March Troops L and M and an ARVN Battalion regained contact with the 272nd Regiment killing 142 VC that day and 57 more in the same area 6 days later. Following these losses the 272nd Regiment withdrew into War zone C.[1]:462

On 24 March the 1st Brigade, 25th Division engaged the 7th Cu Chi Battalion near Trảng Bàng in northern Hậu Nghĩa Province.[1]:463

In late March, Allied intelligence detected VC troop movements south from War Zone C to camps along the Saigon River. On the morning of 25 March, a VC unit attacked two Regional Forces outposts near Trảng Bàng. The ARVN 43rd Ranger Battalion and a U.S. mechanized force from the 4th Battalion, 25th Infantry Division and the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment rushed to the area killing at least 287 VC in the ten-hour battle for the loss of 23 ARVN/U.S. killed.[1]:462

On 26 March, east of Hóc Môn ARVN Airborne forces found 128 dead VC who had apparently been killed by air and artillery strikes while moving south towards Saigon. On 27 March the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor, and two companies from the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, killed some 97 VC 5km northeast of Trảng Bàng.[1]:462–3

On 28 March LTG Weyand moved the 199th Light Infantry Brigade from Biên Hòa Province to Tây Ninh Province to help the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division patrol the area between Tây Ninh and Dầu Tiếng to close the communist infiltration routes from Cambodia into central III Corps. This new operation was named Operation Wilderness.[1]:463

The first week of April saw a sharp drop in enemy contact in the Quyet Thang operational area. Allied intelligence indicated that the VC had withdrawn to more remote areas. Rocket attacks on Saigon had become less frequent as the VC had been pushed back and ARVN forces were now able to reestablish control of the areas around the capital.[1]:463–4

Aftermath

The operation was considered a success and the US claimed 2658 VC killed. It was followed immediately by Operation Toan Thang I which expanded the security operation across III Corps.[1]:464

References

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

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Villard, Erik (2017). United States Army in Vietnam Combat Operations Staying the Course October 1967 to September 1968. Center of Military History United States Army. ISBN 9780160942808. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
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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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