Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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p. vii

I would like to extend my thanks to all the archivists, veterans, and historians who rendered invaluable assistance to my research over the years. In particular, I would like to thank Richard Boylan (no relation) and Cary Conn at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, and the staff of the US Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I am also deeply indebted to Dr. Andrew Birtle, chief of the Military Operations Branch at the US Army Center of Military History in Washington, DC, for his hospitality and...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. viii-x

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Introduction: Verlorene Siege

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pp. 1-10

Americans have fought two prolonged wars about Vietnam, both of which began in the 1960s. One took place in the jungles and rice paddies of Southeast Asia and ended in 1975. The other was fought at home and continues to this day. The war at home has always been far more important to most Americans, and the side one took was usually determined more by one’s stance on domestic social and political issues than by what actually happened in Vietnam. Even now, forty years after the fall of Saigon, both sides are still chiefly...

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1. The “Pacified” Province

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pp. 11-43

In 1771, as American colonists on the other side of the world were beginning to stir into revolution against the British Empire, three brothers from the village of Tay Son in what is now Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam, led a rebellion against the corrupt Nguyen warlords who dominated the southern half of the country. With the slogan “seize the property of the rich and distribute it to the poor,” the brothers raised a rebel army that swept across the country, punishing oppressive landlords and mandarins, redistributing property,...

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2. Fast and Thin

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pp. 44-70

The difficulty the 173rd Airborne encountered in bringing enemy forces to battle in Binh Dinh was mirrored throughout South Vietnam, since the Communists were now consciously avoiding combat in order to hold down their casualties. VC and NVA regular units were breaking down into small, highly elusive groups that reassembled only for short periods to launch an attack, then dispersed immediately afterward. Moreover, in the latter half of 1968, allied intelligence detected a major withdrawal of enemy Main Force...

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3. The Balance of Forces

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pp. 71-96

Before tracing the course of Operation Washington Green, it is essential to understand the balance of forces that existed in Binh Dinh when it began. There are two key points that must be stressed. First, since only a handful of NVA troops remained in AO Lee, the operation would, in its initial phases, be opposed solely by the NLF insurgency. At this stage in the war, the NLF’s guerrilla and regular military units were still manned almost exclusively by local recruits and native-born returnees from North Vietnam. Second, since...

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4. Growing Dependency

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pp. 97-132

There was a palpable sense of excitement in Advisory Team 42’s monthly report for April 1969. Acting PSA Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Green wrote: “The ‘One War’ concept is in full swing. Security is now provided full time to hamlets that have been under VC control for years. Hamlet Chiefs have not only visited, but are now living in hamlets where they have not dared, in the past, to make their presence known. Refugees are asking when they can return to their ancestral homes. The overall attitude is that of confidence.”1...

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5. Overextension

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pp. 133-168

A prolonged lull occurred between the last high point (5–6 June) of the NLF’s summer campaign and the beginning of its autumn campaign in mid-August. July was therefore a quiet month by Binh Dinh standards and allowed phase II of both Operation Washington Green and the 1969 pacification campaign to begin under favorable circumstances. The latter had been officially retitled the 1969 Special Pacification and Development Campaign by President Thieu, who proclaimed that the new primary objective was to...

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6. Slowdown

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pp. 169-205

As 1970 began, it was widely expected that the Yellow Star Division would launch a major offensive during the ill-omened Tet holiday season. I Field Force headquarters predicted:

In Binh Dinh Province the buildup of enemy forces is similar to the one which took place prior to Tet 1968. Reports indicate that the enemy intends, by employing the 3d Division, to conduct major offensive activities in the province in an attempt to disrupt or destroy the GVN Pacification...

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7. The Red Queen’s Race

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pp. 206-242

It was not only in Binh Dinh that the 1970 pacification campaign was faltering. MACV’s command history admitted that it “fell far short of the momentum generated during 1969.”1 In the first half of the year VCI neutralizations and Chieu Hoi defections both came up short of their targets, and April was the first month since Tet 1968 that HES showed a nationwide regression in security. One reason for the decline was that many allied units operating in key provinces had been withdrawn to participate in the Cambodian...

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8. Aftershocks

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pp. 243-263

The 173rd Airborne soldiered on in Binh Dinh for much of 1971, getting a new commander in January when General Ochs was replaced by Brigadier General Jack MacFarlane. While the 2/503rd continued to guard Camp Radcliffe, the other three paratroop battalions scoured the mountains surrounding AO Lee and southwest of An Khe in Operations Greene Storm and Greene Lightning. In mid-March the 2/503rd was relieved from its defensive mission to join in Operation Greene Sure, which targeted the Cay...

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Conclusion: Triumph Mistaken

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pp. 264-300

Revisionist historians claim that the United States won a lost victory in Vietnam due to the success of pacification and Vietnamization in the years after Tet 1968. By now it should be clear that neither succeeded in Binh Dinh, despite the unique commitment of an entire US combat brigade in direct support of pacification for eighteen months. There were many causes for Operation Washington Green’s failure, but the most important was that its twin objectives of pacification and Vietnamization were at odds with each...

Notes

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pp. 301-344

Bibliography

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pp. 345-352

Index

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pp. 353-366

Back Cover

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