This book largely focuses on the combat record of the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in 1966-7, looking at how it performed in three battles against the North Vietnamese. The idea of helicopter base air-mobile units was very new at this point, so this was first occasion on which it was tried out on a large scale.
The contrast between the two sides is rather stark. On the American side there was a very generous allocation of weaponry, equipment, transport and medical support, while on the Vietnamese side there were very few heavy weapons, transport was on foot or at best bike most of the time, supplies were very limited
One problem with treating this topic as a ‘versus’ book is that we really don’t know enough about the North Vietnamese side of the battles being covered. Even their orders of battle are largely based US intelligence, and the narrative is almost entirely from the US point of view. By now there are plenty of accounts of the war from the northern side, and I would have liked to have seen more use made of them.
The inevitable conclusion from this account is that the US airmobile troops were perfectly able to inflict heavy defeats on individual components of the People’s Army of Vietnam, but as with most US operations during the war, these individual victories didn’t really contribute to any increase in American control of individual areas of South Vietnam, which faded away one the US forces moved on to another area, ironically something most likely to happen quickly with these airmobile troops!
The Opposing Sides
Operation Crazy Horse