This video was shared over on B-ARFCOM and I thought I would bring it over here. Yes I know it has commie Cronkite in it, a man who did more to destroy RVN than Giap ever did, but try to ignore that.
The Cambodian operation was one of those things that caused the media and the hippies of the day to do their version of the “REEEEEEEEEEE!!” But it was a success. It bought the Repubic of South VN much needed time and it nearly destroyed COSVN ( Central office for south VN) the HQ and control command of forces in South Vietnam. That is a simplified way of describing it only to make it easier for the laymen to wrap their head around the concept. It wasn’t some firebase sized camp. It was a network spread out all over the area. The PAVN troops had been constantly hammered by B52 strikes etc and knew better that to have one simple central command area.
Nixon for dubious diplomatic reasons, limited the depth of penetration in to Khmer by US and allied forces. But much was accomplished. This is when the famous “Rock Island East” was discovered and destroyed. A giant dept of weapons and matériel cached for the upcoming PAVN offensives into RVN. Because of the challenges of getting gear down the HCM Trail and the delay in replacing equipment and supplies, PAVN forces would build up stockpiles then transfer it east into SVN in an area they intended to conduct major operations. Because of the weather, this meant limited months of campaigning. If those supplies could be found, it screwed up their plans big time. That’s why so much effort was spent interdicting supply routes in Laos and Cambodia.
Hanoi had long claimed that they had forces in Cambodia, and the corrupt double-dealing prince Sihanouk denied any communist troops in his country. A blatant lie because he was letting Hanoi bring in supplies into their ports and truck it up to the border. The US played along with this claim for reasons that who the hell even knows. Nixon knew all about their supply hubs thanks to units like MACVSOG providing intelligence on it. Once the Prince was over thrown by Lon Nol, he formally asked the US for help. The invasion was finally on. The invasion was meant to disrupt PAVN operations long enough to buy time for the “Vietnamization” to be finished. That is, getting ARVN troops trained and ready to take over all US forces positions and jobs while US ground forces continually withdrew from Vietnam. The idea being they needed a bit more time to be ready to handle things on their own. It did work. It delayed Hanoi’s plans. And most tantalizing of all, it nearly ended the war for real. Of course only Hanoi knew it at the time but later PAVN troops admitted they were about to give up. Arc light strikes, fighter and bombers and the ground forces dogging them during the invasion just about put them over the edge. But the time limit resulted in pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. Something that would happen again during Linebacker II.
It didn’t go very well for Cambodia though. The PAVN forces pushed west to get away and stopped pretending to respect the Khmer government or people and well, you probably know how that went. Pol Pot came about and the Khmer commies got so out of hand and insane that Vietnam had to invade again after the Vietnam war to punish them. What a tragedy, but history is full of missed opportunities.
The Cambodian operation is full of amazing stories and heroic acts hard to believe. In fact the history of the war is full of amazing stories and people. Not just about Americans either, RVN had their heroes too and don’t ever let Hollywood and the media tell you different. I think we are going to revisit this topic in more detail very soon now that I got myself thinking about it. I will stop for now before I go on forever.
ARVN- Army Of South Vietnam
PAVN- People’s Army Of North Vietnam – AKA “NVA”
HCM – Ho Chi Minh Trail. The covert trail for supplies and men from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia