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Thread: Could the US have created a mine belt a mile deep up and down the South Vietnamese

  1. #1
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    Could the US have created a mine belt a mile deep up and down the South Vietnamese

    border and patrolled just outside of the gigantic mine field to prevent North Vietnamese incursions? Obviously this would have required a huge amount of defoliants being dumped on the area designated as the mine belt. But what I'm asking is whether (1) this was physically possible and (2) it have been militarily effective. The India-Pakistan border is 1800 miles long. I've read that it's mined, although I'm unclear as to the extent of the mining.

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    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Sure it could have been mined. But the cost would have been outrageous.

    The maintenance would have ate up tons of engineers. And a defensive minefield isn't worth a thing without someone watching it. So stringing troops along the entire border would have required more of a commitment than the US was willing or even able to do. Would still need the troops in the interior of South Vietnam to fight against the Viet Cong. How many additional divisions to man the minefield?
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Not practical. Too much territory to monitor. It wouldn't have dealt with the problem America faced.

    The French tried something even more elaborate - the De Lattre Line. It surrounded the Red River delta with an integrated system of block houses, fortified points, artillery & mines. This was in relatively open country with good lines of communication - internal lines, relatively good logistics & a large concentration of French forces inside.

    The Line was to comprise 1200 separate concrete blockhouses able to withstand 155mm artillery grouped in 250 clusters of 3-6 blockhouses for mutual fire support over a span of 235 miles (378 km). Each blockhouse was to hold a minimum of 10 men. In addition a defensive redoubt was to be constructed around a 22 miles (35 km) radius from the port of Haiphong ensuring its safety from artillery attack. All these new defensive lines were to be connected by roads capable of bearing 30-ton tanks. Construction commenced in late 1950 and was largely complete by the end of 1951.
    It succeeded to a point. The Vietminh proved unable to break in by force. Division sized attacks on the delta in 1951 were a costly failure. However, these were large, slow moving heavy infantry & artillery units. Nothing that big moved into Sth Vietnam at the height of US power - it would have been minced up & the Nth Vietnamese knew it. Instead they infiltrated smaller units as light infantry. The Vietminh were able to do just that to the de Lattre line. They infiltrated battalion sized formations, picked of strong points and generally made life difficult for the French. The line you envisage is designed to stop infiltration. It would have been a very costly failure.

    One more point. In unconventional warfare minefields can be a double edged sword. In 1966 the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) laid an 11km minefield in Phuoc Tuy province at the behest of its commander & against strong advice. The advice was correct. As soon as it was laid the mines started to be lifted. Those mines were then used against Australian soldiers - causing up to 80% of Australian casualties some months. A minefield the size you describe would have just handed a ton of mines & explosives to the last people oyu want to have them.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

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