Operation Somerset Plain

Operation Somerset Plain was a joint military operation conducted by the United States and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in the A Sầu Valley from 4-20 August 1968.

Background

The A Sầu Valley was a vital corridor for moving military supplies coming from the Ho Chi Minh Trail and was used by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) as a staging area for numerous attacks in northern I Corps. Three months after the conclusion of Operation Delaware, MG Richard G. Stilwell, the U.S. Army deputy commander of III Marine Amphibious Force decided to mount another operation against the valley to disrupt the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) logistics network and forestall any attacks in I Corps.[1]:607

Operation

The assault into the A Sầu Valley was preceded by an artillery bombardment from Firebase Berchtesgaden and Firebase Georgia and B-52 and tactical fighter-bomber strikes while tear gas was dropped at three routes into the valley from Laos.[1]:607-8

On 4 August 1968 helicopters operating from Firebase Birmingham landed the first elements of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division in the valley near the abandoned A Lưới Camp. Resistance was light with only one helicopter gunship being forced down by PAVN fire. On 5 August elements of the ARVN 1st Division were landed in the southern part of the valley and on 6 August the elite ARVN Hac Bao (Black Panther) Reconnaissance Company arrived in the valley completing the deployment of forces.[1]:608

The U.S./ARVN forces proceeded to search the valley meeting only scattered resistance until 10/11 August when the ARVN 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment was attacked by elements of the PAVN 816th and 818th Main Force Battalions. Air and artillery support was called in and the PAVN retreated into the jungle losing several dozen killed.[1]:608

Also on 10 August a misplaced air strike hit Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, killing seven and wounding fifty-four men.[1]:608

On 16 August, two Long-range reconnaissance patrol teams and elements of Company C, 326th Engineer Battalion, laid delayed fuse mines and sensors (connected to Firebase Berchtesgaden) at the western passes into Laos to impede and monitor PAVN movement.[1]:608

On 17 August the U.S./ARVN force began to be lifted out of the valley and this proceeded without PAVN interference, concluding on 20 August.[1]:608

Aftermath

U.S. losses were 7 killed, while ARVN losses were 11 killed, 8 of which were from a U.S. artillery round that fell short. US/ARVN forces claims the PAVN losses were 181 killed and 4 captured.[1]:608

Only a modest amount of supplies were located and destroyed, which suggested that the PAVN had still not recovered from the effects of Operation Delaware.[1]:608-9

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 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.
1st Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment

The 1st Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment (1-321st FAR) is an inactive field artillery battalion of the United States Army. The battalion served in World War I, World War II, Vietnam and the Global War on Terror with the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Divisions, and with the 18th Field Artillery Brigade. The battalion officially inactivated in March 2014, and its firing batteries were distributed throughout the 82nd Airborne Division.

1st Division (South Vietnam)

The 1st Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)—the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975—was part of the I Corps that oversaw the northernmost region of South Vietnam, the centre of Vietnam.

The 1st Division was based in Huế, the old imperial city and one of two major cities in the region, which was also the corps headquarters. This division was also tasked with the defence of Quảng Trị, the closest town to the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and among the first to be hit by the Tet Offensive.

2nd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment

The 2nd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment (2-321 FAR) is an inactive field artillery battalion of the United States Army. The battalion served in World War I, World War II, Vietnam and the Global War on Terrorism with the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Divisions. The battalion was inactivated in 2014 as part of force reductions.

A Lưới Camp

A Lưới Camp (also known as A Lưới Special Forces Camp, LZ Stallion or Ta Bat Airfield) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base in the A Sầu Valley southwest of Huế in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

A Sầu Valley

The A Shau Valley (Vietnamese: thung lũng A Sầu) is a valley in Vietnam's Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, west of the coastal city of Huế, along the border of Laos. The valley runs north and south for 40 kilometers and is a 1.5- kilometer-wide flat bottomland covered with tall elephant grass, flanked by two densely forested mountain ridges whose summits vary in elevation from 900 to 1,800 meters. A Shau Valley was one of the key entry points into South Vietnam for men and material brought along the Ho Chi Minh trail by the North Vietnamese Army and was the scene of heavy fighting during the Vietnam War. The A Shau Valley is bisected lengthwise by Route 548. The Ho Chi Minh Highway now runs along the valley floor.

Battle of A Sau

The Battle of A Shau (Vietnamese: trận A Sầu) was waged in early 1966 during the Vietnam War between the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the forces of the United States and South Vietnam. The battle began on March 9 and lasted until March 10 with the fall of the U.S. Army's Special Forces camp of the same name. The battle was a strategic victory for the PAVN in that they were able to take control of the A Shau Valley and use it as a base area for the rest of the war.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1968)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1968, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, 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.

Operation Delaware

Operation Delaware/Operation Lam Son 216 was a joint military operation launched during the Vietnam War. It began on 19 April 1968, with troops from the United States and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) moving into the A Sầu Valley. The A Sầu Valley was a vital corridor for moving military supplies coming from the Ho Chi Minh Trail and was used by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) as a staging area for numerous attacks in northern I Corps. Other than small, special operations reconnaissance patrols, American and South Vietnamese forces had not been present in the region since the Battle of A Shau in March 1966, when a U.S. Special Forces camp located there was overrun.

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