INCURSION by J.D. Coleman


From America's Choke Hold on the NVA Lifelines to the Sacking of the Cambodian Sanctuaries
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 Perhaps the most controversial military operation of the Vietnam War was the US Army's May 1, 1970, assault on previously sacrosanct Communist bases and supply dumps in Cambodia. All but ignored in most accounts, however, are the events leading up to the cross-border foray. Coleman (Pleiku, 1988) bridges this gap effectively and instructively with a wide-ranging overview of the battleground and of the diplomatic and home-front maneuvering that took place during the 28 months between the Tet Offensive of 1968 and the incursion. A decorated combat veteran of the clashes he chronicles, the author recounts how the interdiction strategies employed by Gen. Creighton Abrams in connection with the pacification programs initiated by William Colby (then a CIA station chief) forced the North Vietnam Army to move its materiel stockpiles from sites around Saigon into putatively neutral Cambodia. With peace negotiations stalled in Paris and a phased reduction in American troops already underway, the Nixon Administration approved bombing these hitherto inviolate havens, eventually okaying an air/ground attack as well. In Coleman's view, though, the President squandered US advantage by publicly limiting the raid to 60 days and its thrust to 30 kilometers beyond the frontier. He also argues that the war's outcome could have proved very different had allied commanders instituted an interdiction/pacification campaign by 1967. Even so, the author reckons, the curtailed invasion (which denied NVA troops a wealth of ammunition, medical supplies, weapons, and training facilities) bought the Thieu regime two extra years. Authoritative and accessible. The frequently gripping text includes eight pages of photos and a like number of maps (not seen).

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-05877-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991