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Vietnam War Search & Destroy: "Operation Buckskin" 1966 US Army

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Published on Nov 5, 2013

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Elements of the 1st Infantry Division and M48 Patton tanks, on a 5-day Vietnam War search & destroy misson titled Operation Buckskin, North of Saigon in 1966. From "Your Army Reports" No. 3.

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Public domain film from the Prelinger Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_a...

Search and Destroy, Seek and Destroy, or even simply S&D, refers to a military strategy that became a large component of the Vietnam War. The idea was to insert ground forces into hostile territory, search out the enemy, destroy them, and withdraw immediately afterward. The strategy was the result of a new technology, the helicopter, which resulted in a new form of warfare, the fielding of air cavalry, and was thought to be ideally suited to counter-guerrilla jungle warfare. The complementary conventional strategy, which entailed attacking and conquering an enemy position, then fortifying and holding it indefinitely, was known as "clear and hold" or "clear and secure." In theory, since the traditional methods of "taking ground" could not be used in this war, a war of attrition would be used, eliminating the enemy by the use of "searching" for them, then "destroying" them, and the "body count" would be the measuring tool to determine the success of the strategy of "search and destroy." It is common practice among military forces to enforce strict rules on a search and destroy mission.

...The Zippo missions were mainly assigned to the second phase around 1966 and 1967, along with operations "Clear and Secure."

Search and destroy missions entailed sending out platoons, companies, or larger detachments of US troops from a fortified position to locate and destroy Vietcong or NVA units in the countryside. These missions most commonly involved hiking out into the "boonies" and setting an ambush in the brush, near a suspected VC trail. The ambush typically involved the use of fixed Claymore Antipersonnel Mines, crossing lines of small arms fire, mortar support, and possibly additional artillery support called in via radio from a nearby firebase.

In February 1967, some of the largest Zippo missions was operated in the Iron Triangle, located between Saigon and Routes 13 and 25. The area consisted of a mass centre of Viet Cong logistics and headquarters, with some of the most high-ranking NLF officials stationed there. The offensive began with Operation Junction City, where the American units assigned had destroyed hundreds of tons of rice, killed 720 guerrillas, and captured 213 prisoners. However, the Iron Triangle area's defenders was thought to be over 10,000. The offensive failed to destroy the NLF's headquarter nor capture any high-ranking officer, therefore having little effect toward Hanoi's plan...

Search and destroy missions had many flaws. First, there was lack of distinction between "clearing" and search and destroy missions. Thus "clearing" missions, which were less aggressive, eventually morphed into a more violent and brutal form of tactic just as search and destroy missions were. With the lack of distinction between "clearing" and search and destroy missions, pacification was not pushed. Guenter Lewey, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, argued that the generals and war planners severely underestimated the enemy's abilities to match and exceed U.S. forces. Large numbers of Viet Cong troops would be killed or captured, but they were quickly replaced. Although enemy forces were initially pushed out of certain territories, as soon as the American forces left the areas, they simply returned with more reinforcements and weapons.

The effectiveness of the missions are also doubtful. In one of the first Search and Destroy missions northwest of Dau Tieng, named Operation Attleboro, US report states that 155 U.S. soldiers were killed, while the North Vietnamese lost 1,106. In Operation Junction City, the report also states that 282 U.S. soldiers were killed while the Viet Cong lost 1,728 guerrillas. These figures, however, should be considered in light of the methods by which they were obtained. The estimates were almost exclusively gathered by indirect means: sensor readings, sightings of secondary explosions, reports of defectors or POWs, and inference or extrapolation.

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