The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973

By Shelby L. Stanton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 17.
COUNTEROFFENSIVE

1. Into the A Shau Valley

Following the Tet-68 onslaught of shock attacks, MACV moved to sweep and secure the regions adjacent to cities and installations that had been targeted, and also launched several counteroffensives into suspected NVA/VC base camps along the border. The devastating Battle of Hue convinced General Westmoreland of the need to strike deep into the North Vietnamese Army staging area of A Shau Valley, on the westernmost fringes of Thua Thien Province, in order to preempt the massing of further attacks on the crucial city. The highly mobile 1st Cavalry Division, just north of the valley as a result of its spectacular Khe Sanh relief, was chosen as the sword of vengeance.

The remote A Shan Valley was one of the most rugged and inaccessible regions straddling Vietnam's haunting western frontier. The valley itself was a flat strip of bottomland, masked by trackless, man-high elephant grass and deep, verdant tropical rain forest. It had been carved out of the jungle-wrapped, misting mountain ranges towering five thousand feet on either side of the Rao Loa River, which flowed past the bones of the overrun A Shan Special Forces camp at its southern end to loop at Ta Bat and then west into Laos. This corner of highland wilderness had been a haunt of the North Vietnamese since early 1966, and MACV was unsure of the extent of fortification there or whether the NVA would stand fast and defend it. Since the valley's rocky outcrops and steep slopes were reinforced with

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The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Foreword x
  • Introduction xv
  • Part 1 1965 1
  • Chapter 1. Advisors and Special Forces 3
  • Chapter 2. an Army Girds for Battle 18
  • Chapter 3. Marines at War 29
  • Chapter 4. an Army Goes to War 45
  • Part 2 1966 63
  • Chapter 5. the Build-Up 65
  • Chapter 6. the Area War 81
  • Chapter 7. the Central Front 97
  • Chapter 8. the Northern Front 117
  • Part3 1967 131
  • Chapter 9. the Year of the Big Battles 142
  • Chapter 11. Battle for the Highlands 157
  • Chapter 12. Holding the Line 179
  • Chapter 13. Battle for the Coast 191
  • Part 4 1968 203
  • Chapter 14. Year of Crises 205
  • Chapter 15. the Battles of Tet-68 219
  • Chapter 16. Siege and Breakthrough 247
  • Chapter 17. Counteroffensive 260
  • Part 5 1969 281
  • Chapter 18. One War 283
  • Chapter 19. One War in the Northern Provinces 295
  • Chapter 20. One War in the Southern Provinces 308
  • Part 6 333
  • Chapter 21 335
  • Chapter 22. an Army Departs the War 350
  • Guide to Unit Organization and Terms 369
  • Sources and Bibliography 371
  • Index 395
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