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CIA Archives: Vietnam War - Battle of Ia Drang Valley (1965 Documentary Film)

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Опубликовал: Вячеслав 21.04.2012 23:00:00
DVD: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000UWK7II/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UT...
DVD: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000UWK7II/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=doc06-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217153&creative=399701&creativeASIN=B000UWK7II


The Battle of Ia Drang was the first major battle between the United States Army and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) (referred to by U.S. fighting units as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) during the Vietnam War).

The two-part battle took place between November 14 and November 18, 1965, at two landing zones (LZs) northwest of Plei Me in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam (approximately 35 miles south-west of Pleiku). The battle derives its name from the Drang River which runs through the valley northwest of Plei Me, in which the engagement took place. "Ia" means "river" in the local Montagnard language.

Representing the American forces were elements of the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, and the 5th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The North Vietnamese forces included the 66th and 1st battalion/33rd Regiments of the NVA as well National Liberation Front (NLF) (known world wide as the Viet Cong) of the H15 Battalion. The battle featured close air support by U.S. bombers. Both sides suffered heavy losses and both claimed victory. The U.S. lost 234 dead, with 242 wounded; November 17 was the deadliest ambush for Americans in the entire Vietnam War, with 155 men killed and 126 men wounded.

The battle is the subject of the critically acclaimed book We Were Soldiers Once... And Young by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. In 2002, Randall Wallace depicted the first part of the battle in the film We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson and Barry Pepper as Moore and Galloway, respectively. The National Geographic Channel has also aired a program titled "Day Under Fire: Vietnam War" which focuses mainly on the battle of Ia Drang.

Throughout 1963 and 1964 a series of political and military mishaps had seriously affected the capabilities of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) main forces in South Vietnam. ARVN commanders were initially under direct orders by President Ngo Dinh Diem to avoid pitched combat at all costs, allowing the NLF (VC) forces (known around the world as the Viet Cong, or simply "VC") to train and grow without significant opposition, despite losing several leaders to CIA search and destroy squads which relied heavily on rocket attacks using attack helicopters. Even after Diem's overthrow in a 1963 coup, the new military leadership largely consisted of commanders put in place by Diem prior to the coup. They showed equal lack of interest in fighting the NLF, spending their time in a series of coups and counter-coups.

In this vacuum the NLF (VC) units were able to mount increasingly larger military operations. At first these were limited to building up larger formations (battalions and regiments) but by late 1964 they had evolved into an all-out war against ARVN units, which they outperformed in all ways. By early 1965 the majority of rural South Vietnam was under limited VC control, increasingly supported by NVA regulars from North Vietnam. By 1965 ARVN units in the field were hopelessly outclassed and being ambushed and slaughtered.

U.S. advisers in the field had long been pushing for the ARVN forces to be "taken over" by U.S. commanders. In addition to actually getting the men to fight (something they generally seemed willing to do when well-led) the better training and leadership of the U.S. command was expected to be more than enough to make up for the existing deficiencies in the ARVN command. However, the newly-appointed commander of the Vietnam efforts, General William Westmoreland, felt the direct application of U.S. forces was a more appropriate solution; perhaps the ARVN units would not fight, but the same was certainly not true of U.S. Army regulars. By early 1965 he had secured the commitment of upwards of 300,000 U.S. regulars from Lyndon B. Johnson, and was actively trying to get them into the field as soon as possible. Buildup of combat-ready forces took place throughout the summer of 1965.

By 1965, the VC forces were in nominal control of most of the countryside and had set up a major military infrastructure in the Central Highlands, to the northeast of the Saigon region. Vietnamese communist forces had operated in this area during the previous decade in their war against the French, winning a notable victory at the Battle of Mang Yang Pass in 1954. There were few reliable roads into the area, making it an ideal place for the communist forces to form bases that were relatively immune from attack by the generally road-bound ARVN forces. During 1965 large groups of North Vietnamese regulars of the PAVN moved into the area in order to conduct major offensive operations. Attacks to the southwest from these bases threatened to cut South Vietnam in two.

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