Dong A Shau Valley Analysis

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The United States and South Vietnamese forces engaged the 29th Regiment of the People’s Army of Vietnam (29th PAVN) in the A Shau Valley during Operation Apache Snow from 10 May 1969 to 20 May 1969. Major General Melvin Zais, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, led the corps-level mission in order to destroy and clear enemy forces in the valley. The decisive effort occurred on Dong Ap Bia, often referred to as Hill 937 or “Hamburger Hill”. (zaffri 282). Prior to the initiation of the operation, intelligence reports indicated that North Vietnamese forces utilized the A Shau Valley, located approximately two miles from the Laotian border, as a network in order to transport supplies and equipment in preparation for an attack. (Boian). Operating under the United States’ strategy of attrition in Vietnam, General Zais launched the mission in order to “keep…show more content…
Furthermore, Dong Ap Bia did not serve as key or decisive terrain in the area of operations. In his analysis of the lessons learned during the Vietnam War, Colonel Harry Summers states that offensive action is, “strategic when it leads directly to the political objective—the purpose for which the war is being waged. When it does not lead directly to the objective it is subsidiary and it value is tactical rather than strategic” (summers 108-109). During Operation Apache Snow, General Zais planned and commanded a corps-level operation that was strictly tactical. His inability to understand the operational environment was the critical point of failure for the overall mission and ultimately served as the turning point for American strategy during the war (zafforni 275). On 5 June 1976, 17 days after seizing Hamburger Hill, Major General John Wright—replacement to General Zais—ordered the 1/506th to abandon the hill

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