The Cambodian Campaign was a series of military operations conducted in eastern Cambodia during 1970 by the United States and the Republic of Vietnam as an extension of the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War. The invasions were a policy of President Richard Nixon; the objective of the campaign was the defeat of the 40,000 troops of the People's Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong in the eastern border regions of Cambodia. Cambodian neutrality and military weakness made its territory a safe zone where Vietnamese communist forces could establish bases for operations over the border. With the US shifting toward a policy of Vietnamization and withdrawal, it sought to shore up the South Vietnamese government by eliminating the cross-border threat. A change in the Cambodian government allowed an opportunity to destroy the bases in 1970, when Prince Norodom Sihanouk was deposed and replaced by pro-US General Lon Nol. A series of South Vietnamese-Lon Nol operations had captured a few towns, but the Viet Cong military and political leadership had narrowly escaped the cordon.
The operation was a response to a North Vietnamese offensive on 29 March against the Cambodian Army that captured large parts of eastern Cambodia in the wake of these operations. Allied military operations failed to eliminate many communist troops or to capture their elusive headquarters, known as the Central Office for South Vietnam as they had left a month prior, but the haul of captured material in Cambodia prompted claims of success; the PAVN had been utilizing large sections of unpopulated eastern Cambodia as sanctuaries into which they could withdraw from the struggle in South Vietnam to rest and reorganize without being attacked. These base areas were utilized by the PAVN and VC to store weapons and other material, transported on a large scale into the region on the Sihanouk Trail. PAVN forces had begun moving through Cambodian territory as early as 1963. Cambodian neutrality had been violated by South Vietnamese forces in pursuit of political-military factions opposed to the regime of Ngô Đình Diệm in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1966, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, ruler of Cambodia, convinced of eventual communist victory in Southeast Asia and fearful for the future of his rule, had concluded an agreement with the People's Republic of China which allowed the establishment of permanent communist bases on Cambodian soil and the use of the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville for resupply. During 1968, Cambodia's indigenous communist movement, labeled Khmer Rouge by Sihanouk, began an insurgency to overthrow the government. While they received limited material help from the North Vietnamese at the time, they were able to shelter their forces in areas controlled by PAVN/VC troops; the US government was aware of these activities in Cambodia, but refrained from taking overt military action within Cambodia in hopes of convincing the mercurial Sihanouk to alter his position. To accomplish this, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized covert cross-border reconnaissance operations conducted by the secret Studies and Observations Group in order to gather intelligence on PAVN/VC activities in the border regions.
This intelligence data would be presented to the prince in an effort to change his mind. The new commander of the US Military Assistance Command, General Creighton W. Abrams, recommended to President Richard M. Nixon shortly after his inauguration that the Cambodian Base Areas be attacked by aerial bombardment utilizing B-52 Stratofortress bombers; the president refused, but the breaking point came with the launching of PAVN's Tet 1969 Offensive within South Vietnam. Nixon, angered at what he perceived as a violation of the "agreement" with Hanoi after the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam, authorized the covert air campaign; the first mission of Operation Menu was dispatched on 18 March and by the time it was completed 14 months more than 3,000 sorties had been flown and 108,000 tons of ordnance had been dropped on eastern Cambodia. While Sihanouk was abroad in France for a rest cure in January 1970, government-sponsored anti-Vietnamese demonstrations were held throughout Cambodia.
Continued unrest spurred Prime Minister/Defense Minister Lon Nol to close the port of Sihanoukville to communist supplies and to issue an ultimatum on 12 March to the North Vietnamese to withdraw their forces from Cambodia within 72 hours. The prince, outraged that his "modus vivendi" with the communists had been disturbed arranged for a trip to Moscow and Beijing in an attempt to gain their agreement to apply pressure on Hanoi to restrain its forces in Cambodia. On 18 March, the Cambodian National Assembly deposed Sihanouk and named Lon Nol as provisional head of state; this led Sihanouk to establish a government-in-exile in Beijing and to ally himself with North Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge, the VC, the Laotian Pathet Lao. In doing so, Sihanouk lent his name and popularity in the rural areas of Cambodia to a movement over which he had little control; the North Vietnamese response to the coup was swift. PAVN began directly supplying large amounts of weapons and advisors to the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia plunged into civil war.
Lon Nol saw Cambodia's population of 400,000 ethnic Vietnamese as possible hostages to prevent PAVN attacks and ordered their roundup and internment. Cambodian soldiers and civilians unleas
Khmer National Armed Forces
The Khmer National Armed Forces abbreviated to FANK, were the official armed defense forces of the Khmer Republic, a short-lived state that existed from 1970 to 1975, known today as Cambodia. The FANK was the successor of the Royal Khmer Armed Forces, responsible for the defense of the previous Kingdom of Cambodia since its independence in 1954 from France. Being a continuation of the old Royal armed forces under a new name, the FANK played a more partisan role in the Cambodian Civil War that escalated following the deposition as Head of State of Prince Norodom Sihanouk by a coup d’état in March 1970 orchestrated by his own Prime-Minister General Lon Nol. Although the armed forces of the Kingdom had been involved since April 1967 in the suppression of the Communist Party of Kampuchea's rebellion led by Saloth Sar, up until Sihanouk's overthrow it was considered to have the consensual backing of the Cambodian society, as the Prince was considered the symbol of the people. On November 20, 1953, the French protectorate of Cambodia was granted full independence by France, allowing the young King Norodom Sihanouk to lead the government of the first post-colonial state in French-ruled Indochina.
Under the terms of the Geneva Accords signed the following year which ended the Indochina War, French Army and Vietnamese Vietminh guerrilla units still operating in Cambodia were obliged to withdraw from its territory and that a new defense force was to be raised. Trained by the French and equipped by the United States since September 1950, the armed forces of the new Kingdom of Cambodia were formed by Khmer regular soldiers transferred from French colonial units, though ex-Vietminh and former Khmer Issarak guerrillas of Khmer origin were allowed to join. Most of the senior members of the Officer corps had been officials in the colonial regime. Lon Nol, for example, served as Commander of the Cambodian Police under the French protectorate. In 1955 Gen. Lon was promoted to Chief-of-Staff of the FARK, in 1960 was appointed Minister of Defense. Meanwhile, Cambodia was admitted as a protocol state member of the US-sponsored SEATO alliance and under his command the FARK became a bastion of American influence on the Sihanouk regime because US military aid constituted 30% of the armed forces’ budget until August 1964, when it was renounced by the Cambodian government.
Following his faction's seizure of a large number of seats of the ruling Sangkum party's representation at the National Assembly in the 1966 general elections, Gen. Lon was elected Prime-Minister, thereby locking the state institutions under the firm grip of the military, just as Sihanouk had feared. However, he resigned from the post in 1967 after a car accident, only to return two years when the monarch mounted a renewed purge against leftist dissidents; as a representative of the conservative Khmer who had supported the French rule, Lon Nol never accepted Sihanouk's neutralist policy of non-alignment. Though the Prince's sporadic purges of leftist movements would quench Lon's wrath at the growing communist insurgency, what worried him was Sihanouk's covert deals with North Vietnam and the Viet Cong, which allowed them to establish base-camps on the Cambodian side of the border with South Vietnam and built a massive supply infrastructure. Lon knew that Sihanouk's balancing appeasement of the US from 1968 onwards by allowing B-52 aerial bombings and ‘hot pursuit’ cross-border raids against NVA/VC base areas within Cambodia would be ineffective in stopping the wider, home-grown insurgency.
One of the measures he was able to undertake was the build-up of a strong anti-communist faction within the FARK's officer corps that would back him should Sihanouk shift again towards the left. On March 17, 1970, while Sihanouk was absent from the country on a state visit to China and the USSR, Lon Nol – with the secret backing of the Central Intelligence Agency and the government of South Vietnam – assumed power when the National Assembly in Phnom Penh unanimously voted the Prince out of office. Lon Nol automatically succeeded the latter as Head of State on August 18, although he claimed that the move was constitutionally legal, it ran afoul of the conservative mentality of the Cambodians, many of whom believed that the Prince ruled through divine favour. To further aggrieve matters, Prince Sihanouk, who had sought refuge in China after being deposed, established a political base in Beijing and entered into an alliance with the Maoist-oriented Khmer Rouge leadership and other leftist opposition groups.
In April 1970 these disparate groups formed the FUNK, an umbrella organization dedicated to the armed overthrow of the pro-western Khmer Republic. Lon Nol had to deal with a number of dissident FARK senior officers whom, though sharing most of his views, felt that the overthrow of Sihanouk had been one step too far. Many of these royalist officers resigned in protest from the armed forces' structure when Gen. Lon proceeded to transform with American help the old FARK into the FANK to accommodate the character of the new Republican regime. By contrast, new recruits were available from the ranks of the far-right Khmer Serei, a US-backed anti-communist guerrilla group led by the hardline Nationalist Son Ngoc Thanh which had fought against Sihanouk's regime during the 1960s and who always viewed him as a communist crony; the measures implemented by Lon Nol's administration included the issue of ultimata demanding North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong units to vacate the bases they had established on Khmer soil, prevented arms shipments bound to the Vietcong from being unloaded at his sea port
The Bassac River is a distributary of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong River. The river starts in Phnom Penh and flows southerly, crossing the border into Vietnam near Châu Đốc. In Vietnam it is known as the Hậu River; the Bassac River is an important transportation corridor between Cambodia and Vietnam, with barges and other craft plying the waters. A city of the same name was once the west-bank capital of the Kingdom of Champasak. USS Satyr, a recommissioned repair ship built for the United States Navy during World War II, served on the Bassac River during the Second Indochina War. Three bridges span the Bassac: the Monivong and Takhmao bridges in Phnom Penh and the Cần Thơ Bridge in Cần Thơ in Vietnam. 8.5 kilometers to prey basak lies an old ancient temple ruins Prasat Prey Basak, destroyed during the Vietnam war due to heavy bombing from the United States military. Prasat Prey Basak Temple was built during the Funan empire during the 3rd centuries; the temple is dated between 1900-2000 years old. It is considered to be the oldest Prasat in Cambodia since it was dated back before Chenla during the Funan era
1960 South Vietnamese coup attempt
On November 11, 1960, a failed coup attempt against President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was led by Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông and Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi of the Airborne Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The rebels launched the coup in response to Diệm's autocratic rule and the negative political influence of his brother Ngô Đình Nhu and his sister-in-law Madame Nhu, they bemoaned the politicisation of the military, whereby regime loyalists who were members of the Ngô family's covert Cần Lao Party were promoted ahead of more competent officers who were not insiders. Đông was supported in the conspiracy by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, whose uncle was a prominent official in a minor opposition party. The main link in the coup was Đông's commanding officer Thi; the coup caught the Ngô family off-guard, but was chaotically executed. The plotters neglected to seal the roads leading into the capital Saigon to seal off loyalist reinforcements, they hesitated after gaining the initiative.
After being trapped inside the Independence Palace, Diệm stalled the coup by holding negotiations and promising reforms, such as the inclusion of military officers in the administration. In the meantime, opposition politicians joined the fray. However, the president's real aim was to buy time for loyalist forces to enter the capital and relieve him; the coup failed when the 5th and 7th Divisions of the ARVN defeated the rebels. More than four hundred people—many of whom were civilian spectators—were killed in the ensuing battle; these included a group of anti-Diệm civilians who charged across the palace walls at Thi's urging and were cut down by loyalist gunfire. Đông and Thi fled to Cambodia, while Diệm berated the United States for a perceived lack of support during the crisis. Afterwards, Diệm ordered a crackdown, imprisoning numerous anti-government critics and former cabinet ministers; those that assisted Diệm were duly promoted. A trial for those implicated in the plot was held in 1963. Seven officers and two civilians were sentenced to death in absentia, while 14 officers and 34 civilians were jailed.
Diệm's regime accused the Americans of sending Central Intelligence Agency members to assist the failed plot. When Diệm was assassinated after a 1963 coup, those jailed after the 1960 revolt were released by the new military junta; the revolt was led by 28-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông, a northerner, who had fought with the French Union forces against the Viet Minh during the First Indochina War. Trained at Fort Leavenworth in the United States, Đông was regarded by American military advisers as a brilliant tactician and the brightest military prospect of his generation and he served in the Airborne Division. Back in Vietnam, Đông became discontented with Diệm's arbitrary rule and constant meddling in the internal affairs of the army. Diệm promoted officers on loyalty rather than skill, played senior officers against one another in order to weaken the military leadership and prevent them from challenging his rule. Years after the coup, Đông asserted that his sole objective was to force Diệm to improve the governance of the country.
Đông was clandestinely supported by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, the director of training at the Joint General Staff School, Hong's uncle Hoang Co Thuy. Thuy was a wealthy Saigon-based lawyer, had been a political activist since World War II, he was the secretary-general of a minority opposition party called the Movement of Struggle for Freedom, which had a small presence in the rubber-stamp National Assembly. Many Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers were members of other anti-communist nationalist groups that were opposed to Diệm, such as the Đại Việt Quốc dân đảng and the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, which were both established before World War II; the VNQDĐ had run a military academy in Yunnan near the Chinese border with the assistance of their nationalist Chinese counterparts, the Kuomintang. Diệm and his family had crushed all alternative anti-communist nationalists, his politicisation of the army had alienated the servicemen. Officers were promoted on the basis of political allegiance rather than competence, meaning that many VNQDĐ and Đại Việt trained officers were denied such promotions.
They felt that politically minded officers, who joined Diệm's secret Catholic-dominated Cần Lao Party, used to control South Vietnamese society, were rewarded with promotion rather than those most capable. Planning for the coup had gone on with Đông recruiting disgruntled officers; this included Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi. In 1955, Thi had fought for Diệm against the Bình Xuyên organised crime syndicate in the Battle for Saigon; this performance so impressed Diệm—a lifelong bachelor—that he thereafter referred to Thi as "my son". However, the Americans who worked with Thi were less impressed; the CIA described Thi as "an opportunist and a man lacking strong convictions". An American military advisor described Thi as "tough and fearless, but dumb". There is some dispute as to. According to some sources, Thi was still an admirer of Diệm and was forced at gunpoint by Đông and his supporters to join the coup at the last minute, having been kept unaware of the plotting. According to this story, Thi's airborne units were moved into position for the coup without his knowledge.
Many months before the coup, Đông had met Diệm's brother and adviser Ngô Đình Nhu regarded as the brains of the regi
U Minh Thượng National Park
U Minh Thượng National Park or National Park of Upper U Minh is a national park in the province of Kiên Giang, Vietnam. It was established according to decision number 11/2002/QĐ-TTg, dated 14 January 2002, signed by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng; this decision turned the U Minh Thuong Nature Reserve into U Minh Thuong National Park. The park covers 80.53 km2 with the nearest city being Rạch Giá U Minh Thuong National Park is considered the richest region of the Mekong delta in terms of plant and animal biodiversity. It boasts of over 243 plant species; the park has a rich and varied mammalian population, totaling an impressive 32 species, including hairy-nosed otters and fishing cats. U Minh Thuong National Park is a haven for rare and endangered birds. A total of 187 species of birds has been recorded here, including the oriental darter, spot-billed pelican, black-headed ibis, glossy ibis, greater spotted eagle and Asian golden weaver. There are a total of 39 amphibian species and 34 species of fish in the park.
During the First Indochina War the U Minh Forest was a Viet Minh stronghold. In 1952, 500 French paratroopers dropped into the U Ming forest to attack Viet Minh and were never heard from again. During the Vietnam War it was a Vietcong base area. Officers Humbert Roque Versace and James N. Rowe of the United States Army were captured by the Vietcong during a battle in the U Minh Forest in October 1963. Versace was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by American Military and Rowe escaped five years later. American politician John Kerry commanded a Swift boat in the area during the Vietnam War, known as the American War in Vietnam. Factsheet on U Minh Thuong National Park YouTube: Footage ARVN Rangers of the South Vietnamese Army patrolling in the U Minh Forest
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.
I Corps (South Vietnam)
The I Corps Tactical Zone was a corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975. It was one of four corps of the ARVN; this was the northernmost region of South Vietnam, bordering North Vietnam. These five provinces are Quảng Trị Province, Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, Quảng Nam Province, Quảng Tín Province, Quảng Ngãi Province; the region included the DMZ area where 3rd Marine Division intelligence estimated the combat strength of NVA and VC forces in January 1968 was 40,943 troops. Among its formations and units were the 1st Division; the I CTZ Military Region 1, was partnered with the U. S. III Marine Expeditionary Force and the XXIV Corps. General Hoàng Xuân Lãm was given responsibility for the I Corps Tactical Zone in 1967, he coordinated the South Vietnamese Operation Lam Sơn 719 offensive which aimed at striking the North Vietnamese logistical corridor known as the Ho Chi Minh trail in southeastern Laos during 1971. Due to his political connections with President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, he was still serving as I Corps commander when the North Vietnamese launched the Nguyên Huế Offensive in 1972.
Lãm was recalled to Saigon on 2 May 1972 by Thiệu, who relieved him of his command, due to complaints regarding Lãm's fitness and competency as a general. He was succeeded as commander by Ngô Quang Trưởng. 20th Tank Regiment, the first tank regiment in the ARVN, was formed at Quảng Trị in 1971. It was equipped with the M48 Patton. I Corps disintegrated during the 1975 Spring Offensive; the situation for the South Vietnamese in the I Corps Tactical Zone had regained some stability after the defeat of a three-division PAVN push during late 1974. By early the following year, I Corps fielded three infantry divisions, the elite Airborne and Marine Divisions, four Ranger Groups and the 1st Armored Brigade; until mid-March, the North Vietnamese had limited their offensive operations to attempts to cut Highway 1, the main north/south line of communication, between Huế and Da Nang and between Da Nang and Chu Lai. To confront the South Vietnamese, PAVN Brigadier General Lê Trọng Tấn had amassed a force of the crack 2nd, 304th, 324B, 325C, 711th PAVN Divisions and nine independent infantry regiments, three sapper regiments, three armored regiments, twelve anti-aircraft and eight artillery regiments.
At a meeting in Saigon on 13 March President Thiệu was briefed on the military situation by Trưởng and another corps commander. Thiệu laid out his plan for national consolidation; as Trưởng understood it, he was free to redeploy his forces to hold the Da Nang area. Trưởng was shocked to discover, that the Airborne Division was to be removed to III Corps. General Trưởng was recalled to Saigon on 19 March to brief Thiệu on his withdrawal plan; the general had developed two contingency plans: The first was predicated on government control of Highway 1, which would be utilized for two simultaneous withdrawals from Huế and Chu Lai to Da Nang. This was to be only an interim measure, since the forces that withdrew to Huế and Chu Lai would be sea-lifted to Da Nang by the navy; the president stunned the general by announcing that he had misinterpreted his previous orders: The old imperial capital of Huế was not to be abandoned. Making matters worse, Trưởng discovered that his force was to be reduced by the removal of the Airborne Division.
Dougan, David Fulghum, et al. The Fall of the South. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1985. Tucker, Spencer C.. Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. Pp. 526–533. ISBN 1-57607-040-9