Chơn Thành Camp
Chơn Thành Camp is a former U. S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam base south of An Lộc in southern Vietnam; the 5th Special Forces Group Detachment A-332B first established a base here in October 1966. The base was located on Highway 13 near the intersection with Highway 14 24 km north of Lai Khê and 25 km south of An Lộc. In August 1972 following the Battle of An Lộc, the camp, together with An Lộc itself were the only remaining ARVN bases in Bình Long Province and were dependent on aerial resupply; the People's Army of Vietnam 271st Regiment, 9th Division was located northeast of Chơn Thành in southern Bình Long Province in position to block the ARVN from using Highway 13 between Chơn Thành and An Lộc and to threaten ARVN posts at Chí Linh and Đồng Xoài. In addition the PAVN 7th Division operated from a base east of Highway 13 between Chơn Thành and Bàu Bàng District; the camp was defended by Vietnamese Rangers and Regional Forces, supported by a rotation of Regiments of the 5th Division.
From 3 to 15 June 1973 the ARVN launched an unsuccessful operation to reopen Highway 13 between Lai Khê and Chơn Thành. The 7th Infantry Regiment, 5th Division set out from Chơn Thành to link up with the 8th Infantry Regiment advancing north from Bàu Bàng. Despite firing 87,000 artillery rounds in support of this operation, the 7th Infantry's advance was stopped after 5-6km and they returned to Chơn Thành having suffered moderate casualties. In early January 1974 just west of Chơn Thành the ARVN 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 5th Division, was struck hard by the PAVN 7th Battalion, 209th Infantry, losing 36 killed and 85 weapons captured. In February 1974 the ARVN 5th Division made another unsuccessful attempt to reopen Highway 13 between Lai Khê and Chơn Thành. A similar effort was made in March with the same results. By mid-March 1975 with the PAVN's Spring Offensive underway, the ARVN enclaves at An Lộc and Chơn Thành were of no further military or political value and the 32nd Ranger Group defending An Lộc and the 31st Ranger Group defending Chơn Thành were needed to bolster the hard-pressed defenses throughout the region.
Furthermore, the PAVN 273rd Infantry Regiment, 341st Division was discovered near Chơn Thành. To save the Rangers and RF in An Lộc and Chơn Thành, III Corps commander General Nguyễn Văn Toàn ordered an evacuation of An Lộc on 18 March. Among the first to be moved were 12 105 mm howitzers, while 5 of the 155 mm howitzers had to be destroyed because the Republic of Vietnam Air Force did not have heavy-lift helicopters to move them. One Ranger Battalion, the province headquarters and the III Corps Ranger Command were removed by helicopter, while the other 2 Ranger Battalions and RF were to move south along Highway 13 to Chơn Thành; the overland force left on the night of 19 March and despite a few minor skirmishes arrived at Chơn Thành on 20 March. The defenses at Chơn Thành comprised an earth ditch and a 6-foot wall dotted with fighting positions. With the arrival of the 32nd Rangers it was now defended by 6 Ranger battalions, one RF battalion, 11 M41 tanks and artillery, however one 32nd Ranger battalion was soon removed.
Before the ARVN could begin their withdrawal from Chơn Thành at 09:30 on 24 March 2 Regiments of the 9th Division supported by T-54 tanks attacked the base. The defenders held their fire until the tanks were close and hit them with antitank rockets and recoilless rifle fire destroying 7 and, together with RVNAF airstrikes, they killed more than 100 PAVN soldiers. On the 26th, the 9th Division attacked again trying to retrieve disabled tanks, but was repulsed again. By 27 March the 273rd Regiment, holding blocking positions on Highway 13 south of Chơn Thành was sent to reinforce the 9th Division for another assault on the camp. After 2 attacks the PAVN had been repulsed for the loss of 240 killed and 11 tanks destroyed, while ARVN losses were 50 killed and wounded. At dawn on 31 March following a 3,000 round bombardment by 105 mm and 155 mm howitzers and 120 mm mortars, the entire 9th Division, 273rd Regiment and the remaining tanks attacked Chơn Thành again; the PAVN were repulsed each time.
However resupply and medical evacuation from the camp was now impossible and the Ranger commander, Colonel Nguyen Thanh Chuan, received permission from General Toàn to abandon Chơn Thành. Accordingly, on 1 April the RVNAF saturated the PAVN assembly bivouacs with 52 sorties. One Ranger battalion and the RF battalion were ambushed and suffered moderate losses, but the 31st Ranger Group was now available to support South Vietnamese defenses elsewhere; the base is now housing. This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Vietnam known as the South Vietnamese army, were the ground forces of the South Vietnamese military from its inception in 1955 until the Fall of Saigon in 1975. It is estimated to have suffered 1,394,000 casualties during the Vietnam War; the ARVN began as a post-colonial army trained and affiliated with the United States and had engaged in conflict since its inception. Several dramatic changes occurred throughout its lifetime from a'blocking-force' to a more modern conventional force using helicopter deployment in combat. During the U. S. intervention, the role of the ARVN was marginalised to a defensive role with an incomplete modernisation, transformed again most notably following Vietnamization as it was up-geared and reconstructed to fulfil the role of the departing U. S. forces. By 1974, it had become much more effective with foremost counterinsurgency expert and Nixon adviser Robert Thompson noting that Regular Forces were well-trained and second only to U. S. and IDF forces in the free world and with General Creighton Abrams remarking that 70% of units were on par with the U.
S. Army. However, the withdrawal of American forces through Vietnamization meant the armed forces could not fulfil all the aims of the program and had become dependent on U. S. equipment, given it was meant to fulfill the departing role of the United States. At its peak, an estimated 1 in 9 citizens of South Vietnam were enlisted and it had become the fourth-largest army in the world composed of Regular Forces and more voluntary Regional Militias and Village-level militias. Unique in serving a dual military-civilian administrative purpose in direct competition with the Viet Cong political and armed wing, the PLAF; the ARVN had in addition became a component of political power and notably suffered from continual issues of political loyalty appointments, corruption in leadership, factional in-fighting and occasional open conflict between itself. After the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese army, the ARVN was dissolved. While some high-ranking officers had fled the country to the United States or elsewhere, thousands of former ARVN officers were sent to reeducation camps by the communist government of the new, unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Five ARVN generals commit suicide on Black April to avoid captured by PAVN/VC. On March 8, 1949, after the Élysée Accords the State of Vietnam was recognized by France as an independent country ruled by the Vietnamese Emperor Bảo Đại, the Vietnamese National Army was soon created; the VNA fought in joint operations with the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps against the Viet Minh forces led by Ho Chi Minh. The VNA fought in a wide range of campaigns including but not limited to the Battle of Nà Sản, Operation Atlas and the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Benefiting from French assistance, the VNA became a modern army modelled after the Expeditionary Corps, it included infantry, signals, armored cavalry, airforce, navy and a national military academy. By 1953 troopers as well as officers were all Vietnamese, the latter having been trained in Ecoles des Cadres such as Da Lat, including Chief of Staff General Nguyễn Văn Hinh, a French Union airforce veteran. After the 1954 Geneva agreements, French Indochina ceased to exist and by 1956 all French Union troops had withdrawn from Vietnam and Cambodia.
In 1955, by the order of Prime Minister Diệm, the VNA crushed the armed forces of the Bình Xuyên. On October 26, 1955, the military was reorganized by the administration of President Ngô Đình Diệm who formally established the Army of the Republic of Vietnam on December 30, 1955; the air force was known as the Vietnamese Air Force. Early on, the focus of the army was the guerrilla fighters of the Vietnam National Liberation Front, formed to oppose the Diệm administration; the United States, under President John F. Kennedy sent advisors and a great deal of financial support to aid the ARVN in combating the insurgents. A major campaign, developed by Ngô Đình Nhu and resurrected under another name was the "Strategic Hamlet Program", regarded as unsuccessful by Western media because it was "inhumane" to move villagers from the countryside to fortified villages. ARVN leaders and President Diệm were criticized by the foreign press when the troops were used to crush armed anti-government religious groups like the Cao Đài and Hòa Hảo as well as to raid Buddhist temples, which according to Diệm, were harboring NLF guerrillas.
The most notorious of these attacks occurred on the night of August 21, 1963, during the Xá Lợi Pagoda raids conducted by the Special Forces, which caused a death toll estimated to range into the hundreds. In 1963 Ngô Đình Diệm was killed in a coup d'état carried out by ARVN officers and encouraged by American officials such as Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. In the confusion that followed, General Dương Văn Minh took control, but he was only the first in a succession of ARVN generals to assume the presidency of South Vietnam. During these years, the United States began taking more control of the war against the NLF and the role of the ARVN became less and less significant, they were plagued by continuing problems of severe corruption amongst the officer corps. Although the US was critical of the ARVN, it continued to be US-armed and funded. Although the American news media has portrayed the Vietnam War as a American and North Vietnamese conflict, the ARVN carried the brunt of the fight before and after large-scale American involvement, participated in many major operations with American troops.
South Vietnam Air Force
The South Vietnam Air Force the Republic of Vietnam Air Force was the aerial branch of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, the official military of the Republic of Vietnam from 1955 to 1975. The VNAF began with a few hand-picked men chosen to fly alongside French pilots during the State of Vietnam era, it grew into the world's sixth largest air force at the height of its power, in 1974. It is an neglected chapter of the history of the Vietnam War as they operated in the shadow of the United States Air Force, it was dissolved in 1975 after the Fall of Saigon. In March 1949, Emperor Bảo Đại requested that the French help set up a Vietnamese military air arm. Pressure was maintained with the assistance of Lt. Col. Nguyễn Văn Hinh, who had flown the B-26 Marauder with the French Air Force during the Second World War. In March 1952, a training school was set up at Nha Trang, the following year two army co-operation squadrons began missions flying the Morane-Saulnier MS.500 Criquet light aircraft.
In 1954, the French allocated a number of Dassault MD.315 Flamant armed light transports to the inventory of this Vietnamese air arm. Vietnamese pilot trainees began to be sent to France for more advanced training. In May 1954, with the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the position of France changed, on January 31, 1955, the Vietnam Air Force was inaugurated; the RVNAF consisted of 58 aircraft and about 1,300 personnel. Aircraft consisted of C-47 Skytrains, Grumman F8F Bearcats. French instructors for pilots and mechanics remained until late 1956, transferred 69 F8F Bearcat aircraft to the VNAF, which throughout the late 1950s were the main strike aircraft. In May 1956, by agreement with the South Vietnamese government, the United States Air Force assumed some training and administrative roles of the RVNAF. Teams from Clark Air Force Base began in 1957 to organize the RVNAF into a model of the USAF when the French training contracts expired. Unlike the ARVN, the VNAF was an all-volunteer service, remaining so until its demise in 1975.
The VNAF recruiting center was located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Recruits were given a screening test, followed by a physical examination. Basic requirements for service in the VNAF was to be a Vietnamese citizen. S. 9th grade education for airmen. If a volunteer met all the qualifications, the recruit was sent to basic training at the ARVN training base at Lam Song. Non-commissioned officer training was held at Bien Hoa Air Base. After two months of training, or four months for aviation cadets, the recruit was given an aptitude test and progressed to specialized technical training. From there, he was sent to one of the ARVN wings for journeymen training. Aviation cadets pursued three additional months of specialized training after completing their initial four-month training course; some were sent to the United States for advanced pilot training while non-rated officers pursued training in South Vietnam for their non-flying assignments. This training lasted about nine months, whereupon a cadet served in an operational unit for about a year before receiving a commission as a second lieutenant.
Women served in the VNAF. The Women's Armed Forces Corps was formed to fill non-combat duties beginning in December 1965. Women were assigned to VNAF wings, the Air Logistics Wing, performing duties as personnel specialists and other administrative roles. During the final 1975 offensive, it was not a case of a massive collapse; the ARVN forces in Long Khánh were fighting to the death. A cooperative effort between the ARVN and the VNAF enabled ARVN troops there to hold on. CH-47 helicopters brought in 193 tons of artillery ammunition over two days. A-1 Skyraiders flew in and C-130 Hercules transports dropped massive 15,000-pound daisy cutter bombs on enemy positions. Flying against intense antiaircraft fire, they took a heavy toll on the NVA divisions around Xuân Lộc. On 28 April at 18:06 three A-37 Dragonflys piloted by former VNAF pilots who had defected to the Vietnamese People's Air Force at the fall of Danang, dropped 6 Mk81 250 lb bombs on the VNAF flightline at Tan Son Nhut Air Base destroying several aircraft.
VNAF Northrop F-5s were unable to intercept the A-37s. At dawn on 29 April the VNAF began to haphazardly depart Tan Son Nhut Air Base as A-37s, F-5s, C-7s, C-119s and C-130s departed for Thailand while UH-1s took off in search of the ships of the U. S. Task Force 76 offshore. At 08:00 Lieutenant General Trần Văn Minh, commander of the VNAF, 30 of his staff arrived at the American DAO Compound, demanding evacuation; this signified the complete loss of command and control of the VNAF. Some VNAF aircraft did stay to continue to fight the advancing NVA however. One AC-119K gunship from the 821st Attack Squadron had spent the night of 28/29 April dropping flares and firing on the approaching NVA. At dawn on 29 April two A-1 Skyraiders began patrolling the perimeter of Tan Son Nhut at 2500 feet until Maj. Trương Phùng, one of the two Skyraider pilots was shot down by an SA-7. At 07:00 the AC-119K "Tinh Long" flew by Lt. Trang van Thanh was firing on NVA to the east of Tan Son Nhut when it was hit by a SA-7 missile, fell in flames to the ground.
Sgt. Son, one of the AC-119K gunners tried to escape but his chute tangled in the tail of the airplane. Despite sporadic artillery and rocket fire, Binh Thuy Air Base remained operational throughout 29 April and on the morning of
Củ Chi Base Camp
Củ Chi Base Camp is a former U. S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam base in the Củ Chi District northwest of Saigon in southern Vietnam. Củ Chi Base Camp was established in 1965 near Highway 1, 25 km northwest of Tan Son Nhut Air Base and 50 km southeast of Tây Ninh; the camp was located south of the Vietcong stronghold known as the Iron Triangle and was near and in some cases above the Cu Chi Tunnels. The 25th Infantry Division had its headquarters at Củ Chi from January 1966 until February 1970. Other units stationed at Củ Chi included: 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery 1st Battalion, 27th Artillery 2nd Battalion, 32nd Artillery 6th Battalion, 77th Artillery 1st Battalion, 321st Artillery 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division comprising: 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division comprising: 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division comprising: 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry 588th Engineer Battalion 7th Surgical Hospital 12th Evacuation Hospital 269th Aviation Battalion comprising: 116th Assault Helicopter Company 188th Assault Helicopter Company 242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company The airfield was capable of accommodating de Havilland Canada C-7 Caribou and Fairchild C-123 Provider aircraft.
On 26 February 1969 PAVN sappers attacked the base destroying 9 Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters of the 242nd ASH Company. Following the departure of the U. S. forces in 1972, Củ Chi became the base of the ARVN 25th Division. The base remains in use by the People's Army of Vietnam; the airfield is no longer used but is still visible on satellite images
Battle of An Lộc
The Battle of An Lộc was a major battle of the Vietnam War that lasted for 66 days and culminated in a tactical victory for South Vietnam. The struggle for An Lộc in 1972 was an important battle of the war, as South Vietnamese forces halted the North Vietnamese advance towards Saigon. Although South Vietnam won prolonged siege Battle of An Loc, North Vietnam launched a whole invasion much of South Vietnam in spring 1975. General Le Van Hung, the hero of An Loc, commit suicide in Can Tho after hearing the surrender on Black April. An Lộc is the capital of Bình Phước Province located northwest of Military Region III. During North Vietnam's Easter Offensive, of 1972, An Lộc was at the centre of People's Army of Vietnam strategy, its location on QL-13 near Base Area 708 in Cambodia allowed safeguarding supplies based out of a "neutral" location in order to reduce exposure to U. S. bombing. To protect this critical area, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam had a single division in Bình Phước Province, the 5th Division.
During the battle, the 5th Division was outnumbered by a combined force consisting of three PAVN and Viet Cong divisions. This fighting which ensued became the most protracted conflict of the 1972 Easter Offensive. On the same day that Lộc Ninh, a small town 20 miles north of An Lộc on the border with Cambodia was assaulted, the PAVN 7th Division launched an attack on QL-13 in an attempt to cut off An Lộc from Saigon. To control route QL-13 was to control the road to Saigon 90 miles to the south; this prevented resupply of ARVN forces in An Lộc battle. On the evening of April 7, elements of the PAVN 9th Division overran Quần Lợi Base Camp, its defenders, the 7th Regiment of the 5th Division, were ordered to destroy their heavy equipment and fall back to An Lộc. Once captured, the PAVN used Quần Lợi as a staging base for units coming in from Cambodia to join the siege of An Lộc. Key members of COSVN were based there to oversee the battle. On April 8, the small town of Lộc Ninh was overrun and about half of the defenders escaped to An Lộc.
The ARVN defenders of An Lộc were made up of several units of the 5th Division, including the Division's 8th Regiment with about 2,100 men. The defenders were reinforced by the elite 81st Airborne Commando Battalion and the 1st Airborne Brigade, brought in by air because QL-13 was blocked by the PAVN; because the ARVN defense had little artillery, it was reliant on U. S. air support. Other reinforcements consisted of the 21st Division, plagued by a slow move from the Delta area in the south of the country and cleared QL-13 after protracted fighting; the ARVN defenders did have one card to play throughout the battle, the immense power of U. S. air support. The use of B-52 Stratofortress bombers in a close support tactical role, as well as AC-119 Stinger and AC-130E Spectre gunships, fixed wing cargo aircraft of varying sizes, AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and Republic of Vietnam Air Force A-37s; these methods worked to blunt the PAVN offensive. At this stage in the war, the PAVN attacked with PT-76 amphibious and T-54 medium tanks spearheading the advance preceded by a massive artillery barrage.
These tactics reflected Soviet doctrine, as the PAVN had been supplied with Soviet and Chinese Communist equipment, including jets and surface to air missiles since the beginning of the war. The battle stagnated and became a periodic trade of artillery barrages; this was most a result of casualties sustained in the frustrated attacks on entrenched enemy positions in control of a withering array of supporting firepower. The first attack on the city was preceded by a powerful artillery barrage; the PAVN captured several hills to the north and penetrated the northern portion of the city held by the 8th Regiment and 3rd Ranger Group. ARVN soldiers were not accustomed to dealing with tanks, but early success with the M72 LAW, including efforts by teenaged members of the PSDF went a long way to helping the overall effort; the 5th Division commander, General Hung ordered tank-destroying teams be formed by each battalion, which included PSDF members who knew the local terrain and could help identify strategic locations to ambush tanks.
They took advantage of the fact that the PAVN forces, who were not used to working with tanks let the tanks get separated from their infantry by driving through ARVN defensive positions. At that point, all alone inside ARVN lines, they were vulnerable to being singled out by tank-destroying teams. April 15 saw the second attack on the city; the PAVN were concerned that because the ARVN 1st Airborne Brigade had air-assaulted into positions west of the city, that they were now coming to reinforce the defenders. Again the PAVN preceded their attack with an artillery barrage followed by a tank-infantry attack. Like before, their tanks became separated from their infantry and fell prey to ARVN anti-tank weapons. PAVN infantry followed behind the tank deployment, assaulted the ARVN defensive positions, pushed farther into the city. B-52 strikes helped break up some PAVN units assembling for the attack; this engagement lasted until tapering off on the afternoon of April 16. Unable to take the city, the PAVN kept it under constant artillery fire.
They moved in more anti-a
The Mekong Delta known as the Western Region or the South-western region is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of over 40,500 square kilometres; the size of the area covered by water depends on the season. The region comprises 12 provinces: Long An, Đồng Tháp, Tiền Giang, An Giang, Bến Tre, Vĩnh Long, Trà Vinh, Hậu Giang, Kiên Giang, Sóc Trăng, Bạc Liêu, Cà Mau, along with the province-level municipality of Cần Thơ; the Mekong Delta has been dubbed as a "biological treasure trove". Over 1,000 animal species were recorded between 1997 and 2007 and new species of plants, fish and mammals have been discovered in unexplored areas, including the Laotian rock rat, thought to be extinct; the Mekong Delta was inhabited long since prehistory. Archaeological discoveries at Óc Eo and other Funanese sites show that the area was an important part of the Funan kingdom, bustling with trading ports and canals as early as in the first century AD and extensive human settlement in the region may have gone back as far as the 4th century BC.
Angkor Borei is a site in the Mekong Delta that existed between 400 BC-500 AD. This site had extensive maritime trade networks throughout Southeast Asia and with India, is believed to have been the ancient capital to the Kingdom of Funan; the region was known as Khmer Krom to the Khmer Empire, which maintained settlements there centuries before its rise in the 11th and 12th centuries. The kingdom of Champa, though based along the coast of modern Central Vietnam, is known to have expanded west into the Mekong Delta, seizing control of Prey Nokor by the end of the 13th century. Author Nghia M. Vo suggests that a Cham presence may indeed have existed in the area prior to Khmer occupation. Beginning in the 1620s, Cambodian king Chey Chettha II allowed the Vietnamese to settle in the area, to set up a custom house at Prey Nokor, which they colloquially referred to as Sài Gòn; the increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers which followed overwhelmed the kingdom—weakened as it was due to war with Thailand—and Vietnamized the area.
During the late 17th century, Mạc Cửu, a Chinese anti-Qing general, began to expand Vietnamese and Chinese settlements deeper into Cambodian lands, in 1691, Prey Nokor was occupied by the Vietnamese. In 1698, the Nguyễn lords of Huế sent Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a Vietnamese noble, to the area to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area; this act formally detached the Mekong Delta from Cambodia, placing the region under Vietnamese administrative control. The Khmers were cut off from access to the South China Sea, trade through the area was possible only with Vietnamese permission. During the Tây Sơn wars and the subsequent Nguyễn Dynasty, Vietnam's boundaries were pushed as far as the Cape Cà Mau. In 1802 Nguyễn Ánh crowned himself emperor Gia Long and unified all the territories comprising modern Vietnam, including the Mekong Delta. Upon the conclusion of the Cochinchina Campaign in the 1860s, the area became part of Cochinchina, France's first colony in Vietnam, part of French Indochina.
Beginning during the French colonial period, the French patrolled and fought on the waterways of the Mekong Delta region with their Divisions navales d'assaut, a tactic which lasted throughout the First Indochina War, was employed by the US Navy Mobile Riverine Force. During the Vietnam War—also referred to as the Second Indochina War—the Delta region saw savage fighting between Viet Cong guerrillas and the US 9th Infantry Division and units of the United States Navy's swift boats and hovercrafts plus the Army of the Republic of Vietnam 7th, 9th, 21st Infantry Divisions; as a military region the Mekong Delta was encompassed by the IV Corps Tactical Zone. In 1975, North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong soldiers launched a massive invasion in many parts of South Vietnam. While I, II, III Corps collapsed IV Corps was still intact due to under Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam overseeing strong military operations to prevent VC taking over any important regional districts; when the South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh ordered a surrender, both ARVN generals in Can Tho, General Le Van Hung and Nguyen Khoa Nam, committed suicide after deciding not to continue battle against the VC soldiers.
Following independence from France, the Mekong Delta was part of the Republic of Vietnam and the country of Vietnam. In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge regime attacked Vietnam in an attempt to reconquer the Delta region; this campaign precipitated the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and subsequent downfall of the Khmer Rouge. The Mekong Delta, as a region, lies to the west of Ho Chi Minh City forming a triangle stretching from Mỹ Tho in the east to Châu Đốc and Hà Tiên in the northwest, down to Cà Mau at the southernmost tip of Vietnam, including the island of Phú Quốc; the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam displays a variety of physical landscapes, but is dominated by flat flood plains in the south, with a few hills in the north and west. This diversity of terrain was the product of tectonic uplift and folding brought about by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates about 50 million
The Vietnamese Rangers, properly known in Vietnamese as the Biệt Động Quân and known as the ARVN Rangers, were the light infantry of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Trained and assisted by American Special Forces and Ranger advisers, the Vietnamese Rangers infiltrated beyond enemy lines in daring search and destroy missions. Trained as a counter-insurgency light infantry force by removing the fourth company each of the existing infantry battalions, they expanded into a swing force capable of conventional as well as counter-insurgency operations, were relied on to retake captured regions. During Vietnamization the Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was transferred from MACV and integrated as Border Battalions responsible for manning remote outposts in the Central Highlands. Rangers were regarded as among the most effective units in the war, the most well-led ARVN unit and formed part of the highly-mobile response units operating in key areas. Part of this was due to the specialized role of these units, given that they had their origins in French-raised Commando Units, the GCMA which were drawn from Viet Minh defectors and Tai-Kadai groups, operating in interdiction and counter-intelligence roles, were trained for counter-insurgency and rough-terrain warfare in the region.
Ranger Units had a US Military Adviser attached to these units although operated independently. The foremost counterinsurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson remarked in 1974 that the ARVN as a whole were the third-best trained army in the free-world and second only to the Israelis in counter-insurgency, with the Rangers, ARVN Airborne and Marine Division forming the vanguard. With improvements in the ARVN from 1969 onward and the growing prestige of the Airborne and Marine Division, depredation had caused the Central Highlands-based Rangers to become manned by deserters, released convicts and Montagnards the unit continued to perform critical roles in the Easter Offensive and frontier skirmishes in 1973 and 1974. A total of 11 U. S Presidential Unit Citation were issued to the 22 original Ranger Battalions, including one unit whom earned three total citations from two different presidents. See List of Non-US Presidential Unit Citations in Vietnam; the French established a commando school in Nha Trang in 1951.
After the American Military Assistance Advisory Group took over the military advisory role, the school was converted to a Ranger school in 1956. In 1960, when the Vietnam War began in earnest, the Vietnamese Rangers were formed. Rangers organized into separate companies with U. S. Army Rangers were assigned as advisers as members of the Mobile Training Teams, at Ranger Training Centers, at the unit level as members of the Military Advisory Command Vietnam. A small number of Vietnamese Ranger officers were selected to attend the U. S. Army Ranger School at Ft. Benning. In 1962, BDQ companies were formed into counter-insurgency Special Battalions but by 1963 Ranger units were organized into battalions and their mission evolved from counter-insurgency to light infantry operations. During 1966, the battalions were formed into task forces, five Ranger Group headquarters were created at corps level to provide command and control for tactical operations; the Ranger Group structure was maintained until 1970 as U.
S. force reduction commenced. The Civilian Irregular Defense Group situated along the Laotian and Cambodian borders under control of 5th U. S. Special Forces Group, was integrated into the Ranger command. Thus, the Rangers assumed an expanded role of border defense; the conversion of CIDG camps to 37 combat battalions with 14,534 men, more than doubled the Ranger force size. Within the early 1970s before the fall of Saigon, the rangers lost its appeal. Although many wanted to join the ranks of the Rangers, the popularity of the Airborne and Marine divisions grew at a faster rate. Many Rangers Battalions were decimated during Operation Lam Son 719. Part of the reason for this was orders by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu to halt advances into Laos, just as these units inserted by helicopter had captured the objective, allowing for the newly-armoured 308th Division to move in and surround the outposts. Several Ranger Groups would face well-camouflaged armoured and artillery attacks during the Battle of Kontum and Battle of An Lộc as well as other engagements in the Easter Offensive.
Ordered to defend every inch by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, the Ranger Group and regular units were deployed across the 1300 km border. This had left the region vulnerable to well-coordinated piercing attacks from Trần Văn Trà and the B2 Front. A series of contradictory orders from Thieu, a strategy known as "Light at the Top, Heavy at the Bottom" in which President Thieu neither consulted with his staff nor advisers had sealed the end of the Rangers; the Central Highlands were to be abandoned held orders to recapture major cities, followed by another order to retreat had created disarray which the armored, heavy artillery and mobile infantry of the PAVN seized upon. In the closing days of the war in 1975 most Ranger units were destroyed. Many fought back independently. In Saigon, Rangers fought until the morning of 30 April when they were ordered to lay down their arms, as their nation-The Republic of Vietnam capitulated to the communist force. Most of the Ranger officers were considered too dangerous by the communist government and sentenced to long periods of incarceration in the "re-education" camps.
There were Ranger liaison platoons of 45 to 52 men assigned to each ARVN Corps/CTZ headquarters. They were supposed to insure the "proper use" of the Rangers. At their height in 1975 there