The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam: Unparalleled and Unequaled

By Ira A. Hunt | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Securing the Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta was the most populated and richest agrarian area of South Vietnam, and consequently it was the primary target of Communist aggression. Viet Cong activities in the Delta were appreciably reducing the cultivation of the important rice crop and were isolating the Delta from Saigon. It became obvious that increased military actions were necessary to deny the Communists access to the Delta’s resources. It was the opinion of Gen. William Childs Westmoreland that any substantial improvement in security required the introduction of U.S. forces, and the 9th Infantry Division was activated in the States to assist in securing the delta so that the Government of South Vietnam’s (GVN) pacification program could become successful.


The Communists’ Primary Target

The avowed goal of the North Vietnamese Communist insurgency in South Vietnam was to control the maximum amount of land and numbers of people for two reasons: first, for the political cachet this control brought to their claims of sovereignty, and second, for the s upport it brought to their military operations. South Vietnam was an agrarian society with the large majority of the population living in rural areas, dependent upon agricultural production to eke out a meager living. Many of the peasants were tenant farmers, illiterate and medically illcared-for; they were sometimes plagued by corrupt offi cials and often taken advantage of by greedy landlords. Unquestionably, the peasants of the rural area were the least privileged of Vietnamese society, and for that reason, they were the most susceptible to Communist indoctrination, which preached class warfare. Consequently, the countryside was the primary target of the Communist insurgency. Conversely, the paci-

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