The US Air Cavalry Troop was in the process of carrying out a mission to destroy enemy forces in Vietnam. They were met with an ambush by North Vietnamese soldiers, who fought fiercely and outnumbered them.

The US Air Cavalry Trooper Versus North Vietnamese Soldier Review is a review of the book Air Cavalry: The Illustrated History of the US Army’s First and Only Airborne Troop Carrier Brigade. Read more in detail here: air cavalry.

Air Cavalry Charges NVA in First Test of New Concept

When the United States Army created the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) on June 15, 1965, it reinvented the cavalry idea by replacing horses with UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopters, ushering in a new era in combined-arms combat. To outmaneuver, surround, fix, and destroy enemy forces, the division utilized synchronized air assault soldiers, artillery, and helicopters in reconnaissance, transport, and ground attack missions. The Air Cav provided unparalleled mobility to the allied forces in Vietnam, whether deployed alone or in conjunction with other US Army and South Vietnamese formations.

In July 1965, US intelligence assessed that 7,500 North Vietnamese Army troops were in South Vietnam, as opposed to 245,000 Viet Cong communist insurgents. The 1st Cavalry encountered the NVA for the first time in November 1965. The brutal four-day fight in the Ia Drang Valley allowed each side to assess the other at a high cost to both sides.

Military historian Chris McNab skips over the initial encounter in his book, US Air Cavalry Trooper vs North Vietnamese Soldier, which has gotten a lot of attention. He contrasts the personnel, equipment, strategy, and tactics of both armies in the many battles that followed from 1965 to 1968, when the NVA’s strength in the South had grown to 55,000—and would continue to expand.

In South Vietnam, the NVA was mostly a light infantry force with few vehicles and no aviation. Despite this, the North Vietnamese altered their tactics to take advantage of the terrain and set up ambushes that enabled them to fight at close quarters, limiting the Americans’ ability to bring in air power, especially choppers, to counter the NVA’s powerful 12.7 mm machine guns. The ambushers then dispersed into smaller groups in order to flee the area and rejoin later.

Operation Masher (Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 1966), Operation Crazy Horse (May 16-June 5, 1966), and the Battle of Tam Quan (Dec. 6-20, 1967) all resulted in tactical successes for the Air Cav, but did nothing to halt the NVA in the long run. The contrast between a US Air Cavalry Trooper and a North Vietnamese soldier helps to understand the contradiction. V

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US Air Cavalry Trooper Versus North Vietnamese Soldier Review

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