If that were true, then the ARVN 7th Division would fight the critical battles of the war from its headquarters at My Tho, less than 40 miles by road from Saigon. Booby traps and spikes. By that point, the battle was mostly over. Using good fire discipline, the guerrillas kept both the regulars and the civil guards pinned down until darkness fell, when they gradually slipped away, taking with them their wounded and dead. When a few more APCs advanced, guerrillas leapt from their foxholes and hurled hand grenades at them, demoralizing the gunners and forcing them to withdraw to past the wrecked helicopters. The Viet Cong machine-guns hit 14 of the 15 US aircraft, and 5 would be destroyed, killing and wounding American crewmen. The Viet Cong ambushed them when they reached within 100 feet, and several ARVN soldiers were killed, while survivors hid behind the dike. When first confronted with the APC, surprised Viet Cong troops broke and ran, and thus were easily killed. The Viet Cong had stood up to massive firepower from helicopter-delivered machine guns and rockets, artillery, tactical air power and heavy machine guns of the armored personnel carriers; had coolly fought the battle on their own terms; and had broken contact on their initiative. From then until the end of the year he did so, brilliantly. Period: Apr 13, 1972 to Jun 11, 1972. John Cassavetes, actor (The Dirty Dozen), film director, screenwriter (Faces). The troops came under fire and halted. Three American advisers were killed and eight more wounded. High civilian casualties produced resentment against the government, giving the Viet Cong the propaganda they needed to replace their combat losses. It was, from beginning to end, a Communist victory. Historica Wiki is a FANDOM Games Community. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. Harkins, about to climb into his aircraft to fly back to Saigon after receiving a briefing on the action from Brigadier General Huynh Van Cao, the Vietnamese IV Corps commander, remarked to New York Times correspondent David Halberstam that ‘we’ve got them in a trap and we’re going to spring it in half an hour.’, Halberstam and Peter Arnett, an Associated Press correspondent, had just landed at the same airfield after flying over Bac in a helicopter, but they had seen no fighting there, much less evidence of a trap about to be sprung. I reckon that the current title is … Three Vietcong companies built defensive positions along a mile-long canal connecting Ap Bac with the village of Ap Tan Thoi. Passed Inspection: Exciting game on an often-ignored battle. Advertisement. In which Viet Cong Guerrillas were able to pin down and destroy many assets within the joint force. Vann fumed and argued, but was unable to get Cao to apply pressure to the Communists. How many U.S. helicopters were shot down during the Battle of Ap Bac? ‘It was a miserable…performance,’ Vann raged to Sheehan. Moreover, the Viet Cong commander intended to give his opponents just the sort of battle they had wanted for so long. Anticipating Lyndon Johnson’s later characterization of them, General Harkins and his staff called the Viet Cong ‘raggedy-ass little bastards,’ a contempt that Vann and his advisory team did not share. He took care to separate the chains of command so that the province chiefs in the 7th Division’s zone were answerable to Saigon, but not to the division commander. In those provinces, the real government was run by the Viet Cong. Vann convinced the new division commander to try to trap main force Viet Cong units that his intelligence showed him to be concentrating in that area, hoping that Dam might be more aggressive than Cao had been. About The Battle of Ap Bac. Toczek provides the first description of the entire battle of Ap Bac and places it in the larger context of the Vietnam War. In fact, more than 300 VC were there, elements of both the 514th Regional Battalion and the 261st Main Force Battalion. Diem feared high casualty rates because he believed that casualties were the factor that had triggered the paratrooper coup attempt. Its light aluminum armor was proof against any weapon the VC had in those days and its .50-caliber Browning heavy machine gun gave it exceptional firepower. Colonel Cao was naturally pleased with such a striking success, particularly since he had obtained it at almost no cost to his own forces. This was one more piece of insurance against collusion among his officers. The tactical situation seemed to be improving, with the implication that President Ngo Dinh Diem’s regime was strengthening control in this decisive area. Hoping to iron out the inconsistency between what the Military Assistance Command (MACV) commander had told them and what they had seen, Halberstam, Arnett and Neil Sheehan turned to the American adviser to the 7th Division, Lt. Col. John Paul Vann, who told them a different story. By that time, General Cao had assembled a briefing that showed how the 7th Division and supporting province troops had trapped a Viet Cong unit at Bac and were about to annihilate it. Taken together, the APC, the helicopter and artillery gave ARVN forces a mobility and firepower that was almost irresistible. Meanwhile, two Civil Guard battalions approached Ap Bac from the south on foot. Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh. If the enemy fled in that direction, they would be easy targets. Armed with that knowledge, the VC battalion commander determined to stand and fight, in part to convince the local peasants that the guerrilla government was there to stay in the province. How long did the Battle of Hamburger Hill last? A call was made to the commander of the M-113s ordering him to suggest an immediate advance on Bac, but the APCs were away to the west beyond a series of canals. They learned that the fighting had ended the day before, and that it had not been a success. By October of 1962, the situation in the 7th Division tactical zone had reached its crisis. As time went on, the enemy began to find ways to cope with the American equipment, and the situation was beginning to stabilize again. Grace Hopper, mathematician and computer pioneer. What Went Wrong: The Battle of Ap Bac – Boardgame Review By Rick Martin. Vann firmly believed that the Vietnamese had to fight a very personal war, carefully identifying the enemy they killed. ... Three more North Vietnamese divisions attacked Binh Long Province, captured Loc Ninh, and surrounded An Loc. The battlefield at Ap Bac with markers for a … It became something of a cause celebre that changed American views on the war. Ap Bac was a village in the Mekong Delta, about 40 miles southwest of Saigon. Advertisement. Military units assigned to the provinces might cooperate with Cao’s division in operations against the Viet Cong, but Cao had no authority to issue orders to those troops, a fact that later had an important bearing on the fighting at Ap Bac. On January 2, 1963, the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) and its American advisors were soundly defeated by Viet Cong guerrilla forces at Ap Bac. It was fought in Dinh Tuong Province (now part of Tiền Giang Province ), South Vietnam. What was Operation Rolling Thunder a response to? The cost of his prudence was considerable, for he also gave up control of the countryside to the enemy. Vann deliberately left the open rice paddies to the east uncovered. This presented the ARVN with an excellent opportunity to pin down a VC unit and destroy it by using all its advantages of mobility, firepower and armor. Western Dinh Tuong Province was very definitely ‘Injun country,’ as American advisers liked to call Viet Cong strongholds. Kirk Douglas, American actor (Spartacus). Perhaps the casualties themselves would not have been enough, but Cao had also been so indiscreet as to be unusually successful during his tenure at My Tho. These arguments consumed even more precious daylight because the senior commanders were at their headquarters, rather than in the field with their troops. When morning came, the infantry moved into Bac where, of course, they found nothing, the Viet Cong even having carried away most of their empty shell casings for later reloading. In despair at the disaster that was developing, Vann tried every argument to persuade his counterparts to deliver an effective attack against the Viet Cong. In the last months of 1962, the great prize in Vietnam was the Mekong Delta, an incredibly rich area producing most of the rice and a wealth of other crops in South Vietnam. The real outcome of the battle at Bac was sobering. The southern part of the delta had been a Viet Cong stronghold for years, as it had been a base area for the Viet Minh during the French Indochinese War. Diem permitted no real authority in Vietnam except his own, which tended to drive men of ability out of the armed forces and government service. It was also wor­ried about in­cit­ing the United States into di­rectly sup­port­ing South Viet­nam, and had rec­om­mended … The confident Americans were there to do what seemed elementary: help the South Vietnamese army defeat a ragtag guerrilla enemy. The US and South Vietnamese ARVN launched an operation to capture a Viet Cong radio transmitter from the village of Ap Tan Thoi, but they were ambushed and forced to retreat in a major Viet Cong propaganda victory.. Those areas that had been under marginal control began to slip away, and the Viet Cong main forces had the opportunity to recruit and train to make up the losses of the previous four months. Boardgame Review. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games. What would the Viet Cong use to kill soldiers, besides guns, and explosives? Small-scale mil­i­tary ac­tions, which would even­tu­ally es­ca­late into the Viet­nam War, started in the late 1950s, when South Viet­namese Pres­i­dent Ngo Dinh Diem in­sti­tuted an anti-Com­mu­nist cam­paign aimed at root­ing out "left be­hind" Viet Minh forces. Harkins, however, was satisfied with Cao’s briefing and left without observing the battlefield himself. Under Vann’s tutelage, ARVN troops had done well against the enemy, but Cao’s luck eventually had to run out. 83 South Vietnamese troops and three American advisors were killed in the battle, the first major Viet Cong victory of the war. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. With support from artillery and the air force, the regular troops would move into the villages to hit the VC. At that time, North Vietnam was hoping for an election, promised under the Geneva Accords of 1954, that would unite North and South Vietnam. Only once, during the Battle of Ap Bac, did the Viet Cong temporarily manage to hold off the 7th Company for a short time before finally being overrun and dispersed. 1965. September 28, 1999. Successful military commanders, men whose units got headlines by defeating the Viet Cong regularly, became threats, the sort of popular figures around whom other officers might rally to depose the government. William Lipscomb, chemist; awarded Nobel Prize in 1976. The pilots of the ten H-21s elected to land too close to the tree lines, and their aircraft were immediately taken under small-arms fire. $11.95, unmounted counters; $16.95 with mounted counters. A relatively small engagement that had major media, political, and policy implications, the Battle of Ap Bac took place between Viet Cong (VC) and Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) forces on January 2, 1963. Fear of casualties naturally produced a tendency among the division commanders to avoid contact with the enemy whenever possible. In 1962, Diem remained fearful of military coups like the earlier abortive paratrooper coup. Masako, Crown Princes of Japan, wife of Crown Prince Naruhito, heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Henry Kendall, particle physicist; shared Nobel Prize in 1990. The VC concentrated their rifle fire against whichever vehicle happened to be in the lead, an easy task since the company was attacking in piecemeal fashion, and tried to kill the drivers and the exposed gunners on the .50-caliber machine guns. a month. In the opening years of the Vietnam War, a small group of American military advisors and their South Vietnamese allies were facing down the Viet Cong. What would the Viet Cong coat on these deadly objects? 10 days. Still, Vann sought a decisive battle that would really hurt one of the enemy’s main force units. Artillery fire, sounding at that moment, gave verisimilitude to the story. Huynh Van Cao was not the hard-fighting general he appeared to be, nor was he a particularly able military commander. Cao’s successes had been on the cheap, but they could not go on indefinitely. Take your favorite fandoms with you and never miss a beat. Diem promoted him to general and reassigned him to command the newly organized IV Corps, which included the 7th Division. Sooner or later, the VC would develop an effective means of evading, avoiding, or even countering helicopters and light armor. The Battle of Ap Bac. John Malkovich, actor (Places in the Heart), producer (Juno), director, fashion designer. This article was written by Charles E. Kirkpatrick and originally published in the June 1990 issue of Vietnam Magazine. In the last quarter of the calendar year, Cao’s troops claimed to have killed slightly more than 4,000 Viet Cong in the 7th Division’s tactical zone at a time when the South Vietnamese Army claimed only around 8,000 VC killed in the entire country. Sooner or later, Vann knew, the Vietnamese infantry would have to carry the battle to the Viet Cong, and there was absolutely no question that Cao lacked the will to order that kind of fighting. Even muzzle flashes of weapons firing were difficult to see. As his final act, Cao recommended that the division’s operations officer, Bui Dinh Dam, be promoted to command the 7th. The same day, General Harkins came to hear what had happened. Diem apparently never grasped that subtle distinction, and simply measured his commanders on the basis of how few casualties their units suffered. We were called into Tan Hiep On January Two Battle of Ap Bac - Vietnam - January 1963 - Battle of Ap Bac - 1963, Vietnam War 1955-1975, Vietnam, Asia The home district of the 514th VC Regional Battalion, it was an area where villages were fortified with well-prepared foxholes and bomb shelters. Frustrated American advisers reported to Vann that the individual soldier was brave, willing and cheerful in the main, but that his training was woefully deficient. The command exercised by the politically savvy and technically deficient senior Vietnamese officers was rarely good enough of itself to produce satisfactory results against the VC. Infantry charged out of the APCs to spray the woods with fire, a tactic which had caused the Viet Cong to flee in the past. The ARVN refused one last counterattack, and the Viet Cong withdrew that same night, taking most of their dead and wounded with them. He was dealing the Viet Cong a series of surprises through his use of firepower and new equipment. The operation convinced Cao of the wisdom of cooperating with Vann, and of allowing Vann’s operations staff to ‘assist’ his own in planning the 7th Division’s strikes against the VC. The APC was ideal for work in the delta because it had a limited swim capability and could maneuver in the marshy and wet ground throughout the region. The Battle of Ap Bac was a major battle fought on January 3, 1963, during the Vietnam War. Both the artillery and the air force attacked the villages rather than the tree lines, however, producing spectacular effects but not harming the Viet Cong. Although the government maintained an infantry division in the southern half of the delta, it had really given up trying to control the region. ‘These people won’t listen. The Viet Cong had finally stood to fight the ARVN, and refused to be driven out of their positions even by attacking armored vehicles. In actuality, he was one of President Diem’s political appointees, given command of the prestigious 7th Division because he was loyal to Diem and because his background and his religion — like Diem he was a Catholic from Hue — marked him as a supporter of the regime. The guerrillas, including Le Quan Cong, prepared trenches and bunkers in front of an open field, where they would be able to easily pick off the enemies. The Battle of Ấp Bắc was a major battle fought on January 2, 1963, during the Vietnam War. Paradoxically, being stuck at a junior rank did not necessarily mean that an officer was a poor one; more often, it meant that he was just the opposite. Up until this point in the Vietnam “Conflict” the NLF, soon to become known as the Viet Cong in the US, had waged a war of insurgency in South Vietnam. One of the persistent ideas of American advisers in the early 1960s was that even the ARVN infantry could defeat the VC if the enemy would only stand and offer a conventional battle. Meanwhile, a company of infantry in M-113 armored personnel carriers would sweep the western flank of the area. The belated appearance of the armored personnel carriers did not have the intended effect, however, for the Viet Cong had begun to learn how to deal with them as well. In their home stations, commanders were more apt to allow their troops simply to relax than to work with them, and ignored such fundamentals as rifle marksmanship. At 0730 hours on January 2, 1963, the first of three lifts of 7th Division infantry arrived by H-21 helicopters in the rice paddies to the north of Bac, and almost immediately the plan began to go wrong. It came at a time when both sides were hungry for a decisive victory to galvanize their fortunes. Similarly, Diem appointed the province chiefs from the Vietnamese officer corps, again selecting men on the basis of their loyalty and reliability. Recollections of 2LT Howard Kirk/3/47th Recon Platoon. The US and ARVN troops mounting their helicopters. The Civil Guard battalions, like the infantry company mounted in M-113s to the west, were under command of Major Lam Quang Tho, the province chief. ... quickly deployed in line to the north of Company a so that the battalion was deployed on an assault line 1,000 meters long and facing the east. Thus, the advisers had to find diplomatic ways to get timid and often incapable officers to pursue the enemy effectively. Realizing that he was failing and that the day was almost over, Vann then became concerned that the enemy would escape when night fell. One infantry battalion of the 7th Division would land just to the north of the villages of Tan Thoi and Bac, while two Civil Guard battalions would move up from the south to block any attempt of the VC to withdraw in that direction. On December 28, 1962, US intelligence detected the presence of a radio transmitter along with a sizable force of National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF/Viet Cong) soldiers, reported to number around 120, in the hamlet of Ap … (The words were found in a letter I had written to my wife in January ’63.) Further problems existed in the battle-readiness of the soldiers. Cao, horrified in his own way at the disaster of heavy casualties, delayed bringing in the airborne until late afternoon and then dropped them not to the east, where Vann wanted them to block the enemy’s exfiltration, but to the west. Cao had no interest in putting his battalions through the regular training cycles that Vann kept urging on him. 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