operation cedar falls
Starting on January 5, blocking forces assumed their positions to south of the Iron Triangle along the Saigon River (the 25th Infantry Division and the 196th Infantry Brigade) and east of it (1st Infantry Division) to set up the anvil. It was divided into two distinct phases. , A significant part of Operation Cedar Falls was also characterized by large scale combat engineering and chemical operations.  The Vietcong, however, chose to evade this massive military force by either fleeing across the border to Cambodia or hiding in a complex system of underground tunnels.  , Some authors therefore see Operation Cedar Falls as a prime example of what they consider as the fundamental misconceptions of America’s military commitment in Southeast Asia as well as of the moral ambiguities or even outright atrocities caused by it; one author even cites the operation as an example of how not to wage an asymmetric war. Some 100 bunkers, 25 tunnels, and over 500 structures were destroyed. Moreover, the saturation bombing and artillery fire as well as the forced deportation of 6,000 civilians are considered tactics which, in addition to being morally highly questionable, were militarily counterproductive as well. They constructed vast tunnel networks that allowed them to transport arms, initiate attacks, and safely escape from battles. Whereas the NLF thus suffered a serious setback, its members swiftly managed to reestablish their domination over the Iron Triangle. In order to collapse tunnels too deep for the demolition teams to find and crush, the village was then subjected to heavy air bombardment. United States of America vs. Viet Cong Rogers, Lieutenant General Bernard William (1989). Location Moreover, critics argue that the harsh treatment of the civilian population was both morally questionable as well as detrimental to the US effort to win Vietnamese hearts and minds driving many into the ranks of the NLF instead. " Westmoreland agreed and so it was decided that Operation Junction City was to be preceded by Operation Cedar Falls. While he concedes that Cedar Falls missed some of its short-term goals, he holds that, along with its follow-up Operation Junction City, it had beneficial long term strategic consequences: It dealt a serious blow to the North Vietnamese strategy of protracted guerilla warfare by permanently driving the NLF's main force from the more populated areas and across the Cambodian border. The remaining units got into position to swing the hammer. While writing from completely different, if not opposed, political points of view, both journalist Stanley Karnow and political scientist Guenter Lewy cite the deportations of Operation Cedar Falls as an example of a larger military strategy which deliberately displaced hundreds of thousands of the very people the US claimed to defend and thus alienated them from the South Vietnamese regime and their American allies. Media , Since earlier efforts to clear the Iron Triangle from Vietcong forces had failed, Operation Cedar Falls was intended to achieve nothing less than its complete eradication as an enemy sanctuary and base of operations. During preparatory phase I, January 5–9, the "anvil" was set up by positioning the relevant units along the Iron Triangle's flank, and an air assault on Ben Suc, a key fortified Viet Cong village, was to take place on January 8 (D-day). US forces lost 72 killed and 337 wounded while South Vietnamese casualties amounted to 11 killed and 8 wounded. The operation began on January 8, 1967 and ended on January 28, 1967. Seaman argued that the enemy’s offensive capabilities had been disrupted. Ben Suc was the main pillar of the Vietcong's dominance over the Iron Triangle. The operation is designed as a classic Hammer and Anvil operation, and includes a number of U.S. and ARVN divisions. Finally, in order to deny the NLF cover and make future penetrations of the area simpler, eleven square kilometers of jungle were cleared. In the course of the operation, so-called tunnel rats were introduced to infiltrate Vietcong tunnel systems. In an attempt to permanently destroy the Iron Triangle as a Vietcong stronghold, Operation Cedar Falls also entailed the complete deportation of the region's civilian population to so-called New Life Villages, the destruction of their homes, as well as the defoliation of whole areas. Following saturation bombing and artillery fire, elements of the 1st Infantry Division along with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment began their massive thrust into the Iron Triangle first cutting the area into half and then conducting a thorough search which covered the entire area of responsibility as Gen. Therefore, Operation Cedar Falls was to involve not only an assault on regular Vietcong forces and their infrastructure, but also the deportation of the area's entire civilian population, the complete destruction of their homes, the area's defoliation, and its categorization as a specified strike zone where any individual encountered would be presumed to belong to the Vietcong (so-called "free-fire zone"). Indeed, the reason why the Vietcong were able to establish the Iron Triangle as a major sanctuary was that its terrain made it difficult for larger military forces to access this region.
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