Vietnam War

Operation Commando Hunt
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1968 Nov 15 - 1972 Mar 29

Operation Commando Hunt

Laos

Operation Commando Hunt was a covert U.S. Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 aerial interdiction campaign that took place during the Vietnam War. The operation began on 15 November 1968 and ended on 29 March 1972. The objective of the campaign was to prevent the transit of People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) personnel and supplies on the logistical corridor known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail that ran from the southwestern Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) through the southeastern portion of the Kingdom of Laos and into the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).


The operation's failure had three sources. First, there were the political constraints imposed by Washington that limited the entire American effort in Southeast Asia. The second source of the failure was the utilization of what Colonel Charles Morrison has called "over-sophisticated methods" against "elemental systems." The primitive logistical needs of the North Vietnamese (at least until the final phase of the conflict) allowed them to slip under the radar of their more technologically sophisticated enemy. Finally, all of the above were exacerbated by the communists' enviable ability to adapt their doctrine and tactics and to turn weaknesses into strengths.


The interdiction effort (like the entire American effort in Vietnam) became focused on statistics as a measure of success and "devolved from considered tactics to meaningless ritual." Statistics, however, proved no substitute for strategy and, "for all the perceived success in that numbers game, the Air Force succeeded only in fooling itself into believing that Commando Hunt was working. Regardless of the constant American belief that its enemy was on the verge of collapse, PAVN maintained and expanded its logistical flow to combat units in the field and managed to launch major offensives in 1968 and 1972 and a counteroffensive in 1971. The North Vietnamese built, maintained, and expanded, under a deluge of bombs, over 3,000 kilometers of roads and paths through the mountains and jungles while only two percent of the troops sent south were killed by the American effort to halt their infiltration into South Vietnam.


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Last Updated: : Thu Sep 28 2023