Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

This is coolbert: This declassified memo formerly classified TOP SECRET and authored by General De Puy [not the same De Puy that I have mentioned in previous posts] is most interesting. De Puy mentions the similarities that exists between the situation at Dien Bien Phu (DBP) and Khe Sanh (KS). To begin with, De Puy acknowledges that Westmoreland has made the conscious decision to fight the enemy at the time and place of the enemy's own choosing. This is normally a grave error for a military man to make. Also, De Puy is of the opinion that KS is in the eyes of the enemy a similar situation as to what existed at DBP. The rumor is repeated that General Giap is personally in charge of the operation at KS, as he was rumored to be in charge at DBP [having the senior enemy commander personally in charge of a military operation would carry great weight in the eyes of the U.S. commanders. Signifying the importance the enemy places on the operation]. Some of this intelligence is purported to come from high level prisoners, defectors and such, so who knows what this rumor is based on? De Puy notes the many comparisons between DBP and KS, these being:

1. The type of terrain at both locations is similar. Not identical, but similar.

2. Access to both garrisons is similar. Again, not identical, but similar.

3. A sequence of events is unfolding that is similar.

De Puy makes mention in the memo of the force strengths and ratios. Again repeats the size of the North Vietnamese force at being close to 40,000 troops. This does not mention whether this includes coolie/porter type of supply troops or is solely infantry assault troops. De Puy's tabulation of enemy fire support at KS seems to indicate the North Vietnamese had only half the artillery at KS that they had at DBP. This is misleading. While the absolute numbers are probably true, this does not tell the full story. At DBP, the fire support for the Viet Minh consisted mostly of 75 mm and 105 mm howitzers. At KS, the North Vietnamese were probably deploying 122 mm howitzers and 130 mm guns. These weapons possess an organic firepower beyond what was had by the Viet Minh at DBP. Fewer numbers does not mean less total firepower. In this case, perhaps greater firepower was present. Greater lethality and penetration capability against fortifications. De Puy misses this fact.

I am somewhat surprised in his summary, De Puy does not mention the possibility of eventual ground attack and assault on KS with the intention to destroy the garrison totally. For some reason this possibility has been omitted?



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