Hanoi's Rainy-Season Surge


The North Vietnamese have already gained control of Snuol at the far southern terminus of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In the course of five days of fighting, they mauled an ARVN task force of 4,000 holding the town, forcing it into a disorderly retreat. Saigon insists that it had long planned to leave Snuol once the rains began, yet there is plenty of evidence that ARVN departed with embarrassing haste. It left behind no fewer than 72 vehicles—including tanks, armored personnel carriers and trucks — and eleven artillery pieces. The U.S. Air Force had to bomb the abandoned but still functioning weapons lest they fall into enemy hands.

By official reports the battle cost ARVN about 800 dead, wounded and missing; the Communists claim that the figure is almost twice as high. Saigon reports that with U.S. air support, its troops inflicted 4,500 casualties on the enemy. Yet as a result of the performance in Snuol, there was enough high-level dismay in Saigon that the task force commander, Brigadier General Nguyen Van Hieu, was relieved of his command.


Monday, June 21, 1971