The Battle of Bien Hoa
Senior Leaders have analyzed wars for years in hopes of finding the most efficient way to conduct war. This paper explores the events of that took place during the Battle of Bien Hoa in 1968. Research was conducted through internet and non-internet sources to provide the most accurate facts concerning this battle. The 29th of January 1968 was the beginning of Battle of Bien Hoa when the Bien Hoa Air Base went under attack. On 31 January the first Tet Offensive began by the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam in order to shift the invading army and regain control by the Vietnamese. A total of 39 encounters were recorded in this battle fought by brave Soldiers from the 17th Calvary, the 11th Armored Calvary, the 101st Airborne Division, the 47th Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 199th Infantry Brigade, the Air Force, Marines, and the South Vietnamese Army, against enemy forces (North Vietnamese Army, and the Viet Cong). Pleiku, Phan Theit, Ban Me Thuot, Thu Duc, An My, and Kontum are some of the cities near the Saigon area where the encounters took place. (Starry, 1931) Before the battle begun there was a huge dilemma about engaging armored vehicles in Vietnam; however once fully engaged the results created an atmosphere of change, innovation, power, and confidence that changed the strategies of war forever.
Setting the Stage
Bien Hoa is a city near Saigon located in a rural area on flat grounds, about 16 miles from the Bien Hoa Airbase (weather was not a factor in this battle). The base is a Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) military airfield located in South-Central southern Vietnam. During the Battle of Bien Hoa, and the rest of the Vietnam Wars, the US Armed Forces used the air base as its major stationing center, making it a successful joint operating base.
“The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had about 200,000 troops disposed throughout the country. Most battles had been relatively small scale and were fought by battalion size units.” (William, 1974, p. 17) In late 1967 American forces were under the impression that their offensive operations would finally prevail; however, in the fall of 1967 armed forces intelligence notice and increase in enemy forces. It was discovered that the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese units wanted to impose heavy damage to the free world units and demolish the South Vietnamese Army. The plan was to attack and seize the urban population in hopes of reinforcing their units therefore eliminating the South Vietnamese Soldiers. “The primary objective was to demonstrate to the American people that the U.S. wasn’t winning the war and that the people of South Vietnam were anxious for the North Vietnamese to liberate them.” (William, 1974, p. 30)
Once General Westmoreland received the news he canceled a truce with the I Corp Tactical Zone; subsequently Lieutenant General Frederick C. Wayand shifted the II Corp Tactical Zone to highly populated areas to increase force...