A Shau Valley


The A Shau Valley is located in Thua Thien Province of I Corps near the Laotian border. Essentially several valleys and mountains, the A Shau Valley was one of the major entry points to South Vietnam of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. It was an area that was critical to the North Vietnamese since it was the conduit for supplies, additional troops, and communications for units of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Vietcong (VC) operating in I Corps. Because of its significance to the NVA and VC, it was the target of continual major operations by allied forces, especially the U.S. 101st Airborne Division. Also, it was defended vehemently by the NVA and VC. As a result, the A Shau Valley was the scene of much fighting throughout the war, and it acquired a fearsome reputation for soldiers on both sides. Being a veteran of A Shau Valley operations became a mark of distinction among combat veterans. Although each American effort to staunch the shipment of men and materiel through the A Shau Valley was successful for a brief period of time, the net effect was a series of transitory decreases in the flow followed by increases until the next American operation. Since the U.S. strategy for fighting the enemy did not include occupying remote and sparsely populated areas, the enemy often lost military battles but afterward was able to reinfiltrate an area when the Americans left the battlefield. The most famous battle of the A Shau Valley was Operation Apache Snow, also known as Hamburger Hill.

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