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South Vietnamese Troops Try to "Pacify" Villages North of Saigon

Mar. 26, 1962 - A comprehensive plan to pacify South Vietnam has started modestly in the forests north of Saigon. Last Thursday, Vietnamese forces under Brig. Gen. Van Thanh Cao (pictured right with Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann) began mopping up groups of Viet Cong Communist guerrillas in Binh Duong Province. This was the start of Operation Sunrise, which American observers have called the “first aggressive action against the guerrillas that made any sense.” What made the military action different was the army’s intention to secure permanently the land from which the Viet Cong were swept. Up to now, sweeping operations have usually been eluded by the Viet Cong, who return as soon as the troops depart. Some Americans would have preferred starting the pacification plan in the Mekong Delta provinces below Saigon, which are rich in rice. But President Ngo Dinh Diem believes that breaking the pressure of the Communists north of Saigon is more important.

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