The Battle of Ia Drang: The History and Legacy of the Vietnam War's First Major Battle, Charles River Editors
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The Battle of Ia Drang: The History and Legacy of the Vietnam War's First Major Battle

Author: Charles River Editors

Narrator: Steve Knupp

Unabridged: 1 hr 36 min

Format: Digital Audiobook

Publisher: Findaway Voices

Published: 07/05/2023

Genre: History - Military - Vietnam War

Synopsis

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans would have been hard pressed to locate Vietnam on a map. South Vietnamese President Di?m’s regime was extremely unpopular, and war broke out between Communist North Vietnam and South Vietnam around the end of the 1950s. Kennedy’s administration tried to prop up the South Vietnamese with training and assistance, but the South Vietnamese military was feeble. A month before his death, Kennedy signed a presidential directive withdrawing 1,000 American personnel, but shortly after Kennedy’s assassination, new President Lyndon B. Johnson reversed course, instead opting to expand American assistance to South Vietnam.

In 1965, the government decided to divert many air assets to supporting a bigger American ground presence in South Vietnam. Admiral U.S.G. Sharp noted, “Our Rolling Thunder bombing program against North Vietnam got off to a painfully slow start and inched along in the most gradual increase in intensity."

The fighting in the la Drang Valley represented the first significant encounters between American soldiers and the North Vietnamese. Fought in November 1965 as a part of the Pleiku campaign in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, these battles were most notable at the time for involving large-scale helicopter assaults supported by B-52 strategic bombers playing tactical support roles. They also established a model for the war in Vietnam in which the Americans made use of rapid air mobility, reliance on artillery, and close air support, while the North Vietnamese attempted to engage their enemy at close range with the objective of neutralizing their firepower. But it would also serve as a harbinger of what was to come, as tactical successes would not bring about strategic advantages for the Americans. In fact, both sides would claim victory by the time fighting was done around Ia Drang. 

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