operation commando lava

However, the U.S. also assumed an abiding responsibility for the survival of the Lon Nol regime, which remained dependent on US air support.[40]. He then began to consider an alternative in the form of a physical strongpoint/electronic barrier to infiltration that would stretch below the Demilitarized Zone from the coast to the Laotian frontier (and possibly beyond).

The North Vietnamese built, maintained, and expanded, under a deluge of bombs, over 3,000 kilometers of roads and paths through the mountains and jungles while only two percent of the troops sent south were killed by the American effort to halt their infiltration into South Vietnam.

The goal of the Commando Hunt campaigns was not to halt infiltration, but to make the North Vietnamese pay too heavy a price for their effort. d.setTime(d.getTime() + 60 * 60 * 24 * 2 * 1000); Weather modification was a technology once embraced by the US military as a tool to help both wartime and peacetime missions. Physical barriers, acoustic sensors, miniature landmines and self-destructing caltrops were among the numerous ideas tested in the field. On 15 November 1968 the Seventh Air Force was granted authorization for launch of Commando Hunt.[23]. These difficulties could be remedied.

In the 1952 dramatic movie on the subject, The Red Ball Express, the narrator describes the mud following eight days of rain as consisting of “two parts glue and one part perversity.”. On the second mission on 21 July 1967, the first and third aircraft dropped their payloads successfully without taking enemy fire.

By November 1968 bombing missions over southern Laos had climbed by 300 percent, from 4,700 sorties in October to 12,800 in November. During one two and one-half-month period during 1969, over 10,000 POL barrels were spotted in the waterways of southeastern Laos. In addition to Project Popeye, the Air Force initiated Operation Commando Lava in 1967—another colorfully-titled effort to create artificially muddy conditions along the trail.

To supply the insurgents, the North constructed a massive network of infiltration routes on land and at sea. The first aircraft successfully dropped its payload on the target and escaped enemy fire.

POL barrels were spotted floating in the waters of the Kong River south of Ban Bak, Laos. var d = new Date(); [56] As a result of this all-out effort, U.S. intelligence analysts claimed 10,689 North Vietnamese trucks were destroyed and credited AC-130E Spectres alone with 7,335 of these kills.

The agent, which did not appear to have resulted in the desired effect, did not appear to have had any significant effect on road traffic. Little of the classified documentation reported on the nature of the chemical payload dropped at all. In July 1967, Operation Commando Lava II kicked off with additional drops in Laos and South Vietnam. document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0].appendChild(script);

[28], For the U.S. program there were teething troubles.

By the end of May the North Vietnamese had occupied Muong Phalane, Ban Houei Sai, and Paksong. There was a lack of sufficient numbers of sensor strings and controlling the number of aircraft available for the missions proved problematic. Issues of the compound's transportability, packaging, and storage were also to be evaluated during the test. It’s also hard to imagine such a harebrained scheme being repeated again.

Aircraft deployed to Thailand for the missions made use of the Air America/Continental Air Services ramp at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, separating them from regular US Air Force units at the base. [37] A new North Vietnamese logistical effort, discovered by U.S. intelligence in late 1968, was a petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) pipeline running southwest from the North Vietnamese city of Vinh. What this effectively did was shift the bombing campaign southwestward to the Ho Chi Minh Trail. 7403. ), the terrain itself (by creating landslides to destroy sections of the system), and finally, the ever-increasing numbers of North Vietnamese anti-aircraft weapons. For instance, Air Force intelligence claimed that 9,012 enemy trucks were destroyed during 1969.

Drops on targets in Laos could still not be made without prior approval the US Embassy and the Royal Lao Government. In July 1967, Operation Commando Lava II kicked off with additional drops in Laos and South Vietnam. Operation Commando Hunt was a covert U.S.

Further visual reconnaissance suggested that gravel or other aggregate might have been spread in affected areas, but overall it was unclear what effect the compound was having. During the campaign, ten American aircraft were lost to SAMs (mostly SA-2 Guidelines) and another thirteen were lost to more conventional weapons.[58]. First, there were the political constraints imposed by Washington that limited the entire American effort in Southeast Asia (the continued fiction of Laotian and Cambodian "neutrality", failure to disrupt the trail with U.S. ground forces when it would have made a difference, etc.) document.cookie = "__adblocker=" + (adblocker ?

In December 1967, Seventh Air Force said it appeared "Commando Lava has been laid to rest." During Commando Hunt III the Seventh and Thirteenth Air Force estimated that 700 23-mm and 37 mm weapons, most of them radar-guided, were defending the trail system in southern Laos. The CIA estimated during the year the 259th Group was using 20 bulldozers, eleven road graders, three rock crushers and two steamrollers on the network. The U.S. Air Force had already begun to up the ante in its anti-infiltration campaigns by unleashing B-52 Stratofortress bombers against the trail in December 1965. The Wing was informed that the aircraft and crews would be participating in a test involving the airdropping of highly sensitive palletized loads on pre-selected targets in Laos, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam. On 10 May 1967, the 374th Troop Carrier Wing was directed to supply three C-130 aircraft and crews for "exercise" Commando Lava, to be held between 14 and 17 May 1967. The 3 aircraft approached the target in an in-trail formation, as per the OPLAN. The war against trucks was about to begin. The American public (who had been reassured by President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Pentagon that the communists were incapable of launching any such actions) were stunned by the size and ferocity of the offensive.

The aircraft made an emergency landing at Chu Lai in South Vietnam, where the fire was extinguished. [32], It was, however, difficult for the Air Force to do otherwise.

The immediate result of 11 November bombing halt was that the average daily sortie rate over southern Laos rose to 620 per day before the new campaign had even begun. On 17 June 1967 the title of the program was altered to Illinois City and on 15 July to Dyemarker, the electronic barrier portion of which was designated Muscle Shoals. Fearing a breach of security and accusations of a chemical warfare campaign, personnel were instructed to describe the mixture as a “compound, solution, or material.”.

On 10 January 1972, a U.S. O–1 observation aircraft, flying near the Mu Gia Pass, dodged the first surface-to-air missile(SAM) launched from Laotian soil.

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