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U.S. Officials Study Failures at Battle of Ap Bac in South Vietnam

Jan. 5, 1963 - U.S. and Vietnamese officers today considered possible changes in tactics to eliminate mistakes that showed up in the bloodiest single battle of South Vietnam’s four-year war against the Communist Viet Cong. This was the battle of Ap Bac on Wednesday. Communist fire killed 68 government troops and 3 Americans, wounded about 110 government troops and 10 Americans, and downed 5 U.S. helicopters. The government said more than 100 guerrillas were killed. However, only 40 enemy bodies were found. There was criticism from American officers regarding the conduct of the attack. The consensus was that there was inadequate intelligence, poor coordination, and a lack of aggressiveness from the government side. It was clear, however, that the basic pattern of airborne assaults, adopted when the U.S. began a massive military assistance program in South Vietnam 13 months ago, will be maintained. The U.S. Defense Department in Washington announced today its determination to continue the use of helicopters.


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