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The Siege Of Khe Sanh Began January 20, And Continued For 77 Days.

1395 words - 6 pages

Khe Sanh was located about seven miles from Laos, close to the North Vietnam border. Khe Sanh was almost completely surrounded by ridges and stood in the center of four valley corridors leading through the mountains to the north and northwest of the base. To the south Khe Sanh overlooked Route Nine, the only east-west road in the area. The base itself was laid out on a flat plateau. It was shaped somewhat like an uneven rectangle and covered an area approximately one mile long and one-half mile wide.Leading up to the Siege on Khe Sanh were a series of battles referred to as the "Hill Fights" which began in April 1967. The United States marines successfully gained control of the hilltops surrounding Khe Sanh. In order for the North Vietnamese Army to gain any sort of triumph they had to figure out a way to make the marines at Khe Sanh be at a disadvantage. In order to do so the North Vietnamese demolished sections of the Route 9, which was the only road in the area. This road was the only way for Khe Sanh to receive supplies by ground. As a result, they had to resupply the base by air until the road could be repaired. The military forces took great dedication in protecting Khe Sanh for many reasons, first the United States commanders saw Khe Sanh as an excellent chance to engage an enemy that had been intangible up to that point. They also realized that in later peace talks if the North Vietnamese controlled more of South Vietnam they would gain bargaining power. Lastly but most importantly it was politically important to President Lyndon B. Johnson because he did not want Khe Sanh to be an "American Dien Bien Phu." Dien Bien Phu was a battle that was often put side by side to Khe Sanh. It was often associated because the intentions of the North Vietnamese were the same as their intentions at Dien Bien Phu, which was a battle between the French and the North Vietnamese in 1954 where the French were defeated quickly and brutally. The North Vietnamese surrounded the French troops and crushed them.There were many influencing factors that helped the United States gain in this battle. Even throughout the Vietnam War the United States and allied forces had a major technological advantage over the North Vietnamese but this advantage was very obvious at Khe Sanh. The single most advantage that set the allied forces apart was the air superiority that allowed them to close air support, resupply transported by aircraft, and bombard North Vietnamese Army formations from high altitudes with the B-52 bombers. The equipment the United States had was also more sophisticated it included ground sensors, imagery equipment, and night vision devices. These tools helped the allied forces become aware of the North Vietnamese Army movements. Another major impact on the battle was the weather. Although a small factor it provided a critical advantage to the North Vietnamese. The monsoon season caused a low cloud layer and early morning fog every day. This in turn did not...

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