The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam: Unparalleled and Unequaled

By Ira A. Hunt | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Third Phase of the
VC/NVA General Offensive

At the beginning of August 1968, enemy operations were characterized by a general evasion of contact while maintaining large battalion-sized units in anticipation of a third offensive, with Saigon as the primary objective. In Long An Province—the underbelly of Saigon—enemy interdiction and guerrilla and terrorist activities were minimal, a good sign that offensive actions were imminent. Also in early August, the 1st Brigade captured a prisoner in Long An who identified his unit as the 520th Local Force Battalion from Kien Hoa Province. The displacement of a local force battalion from its home province was another indication that an offensive was coming. Additionally, the 294th NVA Battalion was dispersed in Long An to assist in the offensive, and a new VC unit, the 3rd Battalion, was identified.

Within a two-week period in August, the 1st Brigade had captured enemy soldiers from eight different battalions. Five of the seven VC battalions identified in the Mini-Tet attack from the south against Saigon were again attempting to mass for another attack. In just two months, these units had reconstituted. Obviously, their leadership had been weakened, and the new fillers were not as experienced. Nevertheless, they had left their base areas to assemble in Long An Province. Two more battalions were identified as assembling for the third phase than were involved in the May battles. A list of the Communist battalions involved in the Mini-Tet Offensive and those presumably attempting the third phase of the Communist General Offensive are listed in table 12.

In August, the 1st Brigade had so beaten up the Communists that several of their units were required to merge to maintain viable units. Prisoners informed us that the 294th NVA Battalion, by midAugust, had its strength reduced from six hundred to two hundred men. The NVA just didn’t know the territory and suffered heavy losses.

-99-

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