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False Quiet

Following the fight around the District Headquarters and the artillery strikes and attacks against the Marine hill positions a false calm settled over Huong Hoa District. The calm was characterized with massive reinforcements and defense construction on the Vietnamese / American coalition while the North Vietnamese were consolidating their newly achieved freedom of movement.

The Marines added three infantry battalions to the two that were already manning the Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB). They also brought in the 37th ARVN Ranger battalion. (The Vietnamese leadership wanted to use this battalion to re-seize the district headquarters, but the American leadership, with an attrition strategy and a free fire area at the center of it demurred.)

At FOB 3 fortifications were being built reminiscent of World War I. There was a trench line that extended from the northern edge of the FOB to the southern end and then turned northwards to tie in with the Marine positions. The trench line was characterized with fighting positions facing outward with claymore mines and trip flares in the multiple rows of barbwire–to include concertina wire. Behind the trench line were living bunkers where the defenders slept, ate and other wise survived. After the first contact anywhere near the wire more sandbags were added to the back of the trench line to protect the defenders from the fire from the Marines behind them. (There were no routes through the Marine war so if the FOB 3 defenders had become over run they had no where to retreat to and would have had to retreat through the fire form the Marines to their rear,)

FOB 3 trench line showing several Bru fighters

FOB 3 on the southwestern edge of KSCB

Meanwhile to the west of the combat base in Laos the North Vietnamese were attacking the 33rd Royal Laotian Army battalion. The battalion was over run and fled east into South Vietnam and were received at the Lan Vei Special Forces camp. Actually the Special Forces reinforced their US contingent and reoccupied what had been the old camp. The Laotians reported that they were over run by tanks. No one in the chain of command really believed them. But back at KSCB CPT Clarke was charged with installing and properly recording the installation of an anti-tank minefield where the FOB 3 defenders could cover it with fire.

The noose is about to tighten.

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