Lam Son 719 was one of the greatest military operations of the South Vietnam's struggle for independence. It featured large armies fighting intensely for high stakes. In the spring of 1971, the last remaining logistical route open to the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) for supplying their war effort in the south was the Ho Chi Minh Trail through southeastern Laos. In February of that year a force of 17,000 of South Vietnam's (ARVN) best troops invaded that country in an effort to destroy large caches of NVA supplies and disrupt future communist offensive operations.
What ensued was a desperate fight against more than 30 NVA battalions augmented with heavy anti-air, armor, and artillery support. The largest tank battles in the Vietnam War up to that time took place during Lam Son 719. The ARVN was supported by hundreds of US helicopters, long-ranged artillery, and plentiful tactical air power including devastating close combat air support provided by B-52 Arclight missions.
When the fighting was over the NVA had lost more than 13,000 KIA alone, 75% of their tanks, and vast quantities of ammunition, weapons and rice. The ARVN - in their first major solo operation on the ground - sustained more than 5,000 killed and wounded in six weeks fighting, losing most of their tanks and armored personnel carriers in the withdrawal from Laos. The US also felt the brunt of the fighting with more than 100 helicopters shot down and another 600 damaged in the wild melee.
This is a game I am currently developing that reflects this massive historical struggle. I will also explore other possibilities such as the insertion of the US 101st Airborne Division and the ARVN 2nd Infantry Division in support of Lam Son 719 and the attempts to destroy additional NVA supply infrastructure on a map that reflects much more of Laos than was actually fought over during the historical operation. This "what-if" scenario examines the very real possibility of a "battle of annihilation" that American General Abrams advocated and may have decided the fate of the war in 1971.
Here are a few screen shots of the game in progress...
This is an overview of the map. It covers most of the historical operational area along Route 9 from just east of Khe Sanh to several miles west of Tchepone (Communist Base 604). It also runs from the Demilitarized Zone to the north to include Communist Base 611 to the south (not pictured on this graphic). All major roads, trails, villages, hills, rivers, and jungle are depicted. The map is about 90% finished at this time. You will note the map has a grid of "hexes" overlaid on it. Each hex is for movement and positioning purposes and represents about 1 mile of actual terrain.
A closer view of the Khe Sanh staging area for Lam Son 719 and the border between Laos and South Vietnam. Here is where the majority of the US support elements were deployed during the operation. Map information comes from a variety of sources, but is primarily based on information from the U.S. Department of Defense.
This is the maximum zoom level of the map, showing the area around Tchepone in Laos - the historical objective of Lam Son 719. I have included a few sample combat units and a supply cache counter to show you how the game will look upon completion. At this time I am reworking the combat and command and control systems. Initial playtesting did not yield acceptable results. I am now in the painstaking process of reformatting all of the combat units to be compliant with the new combat results system. This process is not a speedy one. Each unit represents one company in the game with each company's unit symbol being color-coded to depict different command organizations.
Please note: All artwork and development is done in Aide de Camp version 2.09b. Currently, you will have to own ADC2 to play this game. ADC2 is available from HPS Simulations. For more information, please click here.
Copyright © W. Keith Beason, 1999
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