By Willard Pearson

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Extra resources for The war in the northern provinces, 1966-1968

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Recoilless rifle, 60-mm. mortars, and the modern M60 machine gun. Later in the year the division was further strengthened by the issue of the M16 rifle. There followed a noticeable increase in the morale of the division. With this greatly improved firepower, the division could be counted on for a larger part in the battles in the northern zone. A regiment of the Vietnamese 1st Division later relieved the marines occupying a sector of the defenses facing the demilitarized zone. S. forces needed in northern I Corps, where the war continued to intensify.

At four o'clock in the morning, the 800th Battalion was blocked by the 1st Vietnamese Army Division Hac Bao or Black Panther company at the Hue city airfield. After a brief engagement with the Hac Bao, the 800th Battalion was diverted south. The 802d Battalion was more suc­ cessful, having penetrated the 1st Vietnamese Army Division com­ pound and occupied the medical company cantonment area. The Hac Bao Company was called to the compound and together with the 200-man division staff drove the enemy out of the compound.

This trend was in sharp contrast to the monthly average of 256 sightings during the final three months of 1966. The Air Force also stated that although enemy activity was on the rise throughout the southern infiltration corridors and tactical zone, the most serious threat appeared in the tactical area of responsibility of the III Marine Amphibious Force in northern I Corps. During mid-January 1968, the undeniable threat in the Khe Sanh area prompted the greatest concern. Not only had the enemy positioned a large number of forces around Khe Sanh, but intelli­ gence sources reported that Routes 92 and 9 in Laos showed signs of an increased logistical movement into that area, indicating the area had become a pivot point for operations leading towards Khe Sanh.

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