Chapter VII
The Viet Cong Frustration

VC Field Front and his three battered and torn regiments finally withdrew in defeat, leaving thousands of dead at Pleime, in the Chu Pong mountains and in the Ia Drang valley ̣̣̣̣(Chart I). Of the three, the 33rd Regiment was the most ill-fated (Chart II) and suffered the bitterest failure: its infiltration from North Vietn Nam (departure between 22 and 25 July 65) had just been completed by 2 October! The 66th Regiment got itself bloodied on 3 November in an ambush while it had been in country only two days ago. The 32nd Regiment with nine months of combat in the Highlands to its credit was also unable to avoid deadly blows despite its elusiveness throughout the immediate, prolonged and relentless pursuit by the 1st Air Cavalry Division in the second phase.

For the first time since Dien Bien Phu, the Communist troops failed to boast their "invincibility" and sustained a decisive defeat on the ground. For the first time the fanaticism of their troops was broken by a general deterioration of morale. One captive from the 8th battalion, 66th regiment (the last to infiltrate) reported after the engagement with the 2/7 Air Cavalry battalion (17 November) that his unit sustained 30 KIA, 50 WIA and most importantly, 50 deserters. Other captives from the 32nd Regiment in late November confessed that they believed their war was lost. The 33rd Regiment's cadres, upset by the precision of friendly airstrikes held a conference in an attempt to discover what was allowing such repeated and accurate airstrikes to take place: it was concluded that only spies within the ranks could be furnishing friendly forces the location and movements of the regiment's elements.

Of the VC who surrendered or were captured as the operations progressed the major causes of disenchantement appeared to be:

- Disillusionment with the empty promises and bleak future of the VC cause.

- Lack of medicine and medical care.

- Continued sickness

- Lack of food, especially of rice and salt.

- Struck with terror by 52's bombers raids which are believed to cover each 20 square kilometers and destroy all normal entrenchments.

Because of that nightmare, the dead strewn all along the trails and streams from Pleime to Ia Drang are nevertheless the most "fortunate". Those who still survive continue to be obsessed by despair and pessimism.

The battle of Pleime has crushed the material potential of the enemy but the most important result gathered is the destruction of their hope to win and their will to fight.

Major General Vinh Loc
Colonel Hieu, ghoswriter
(Why Pleime - April 1966)