At Ap Bac, a village in the Mekong Delta 50 miles southwest of Saigon, 2,500 troops of the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) 7th Infantry Division equipped with armored personnel carriers and supported by fighter-bombers and U.S. helicopters suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of 320 VC (Viet Cong) guerrillas from the 261st Main Force Battalion. Uncharacteristically, the Viet Cong stand and fight against a bungled ARVN attack during which three U.S. advisers are killed, eight are wounded and five American helicopters shot down (one of which is shown in the photo above). The ARVN suffers 80 killed and 100 wounded, and the VC escape with only light losses. The engagement, symbolic of the ARVN's many problems, clearly demonstrates that government troops can neither cope with the strategy nor match the fighting spirit of the Viet Cong. Despite candid assessments of the poor ARVN performance by Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Van and other U.S. advisers, Headquarters MACV (U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) declares the battle a victory for South Vietnamese forces because the VC quit the area after fighting. The poor performance of the South Vietnamese troops is an indicator that the United States will eventually be compelled to escalate the war by committing American ground troops to fight the Communists.
* "The Battle at Ap Bac Changed America's View of the Vietnam War" (from www.historynet.com): @
* The Battle of Ap Bac, Vietnam: They Did Everything But Learn From It" (David M. Toczek, 2001): @
* "A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam" (Neil Sheehan, 1988): @
* "Military Assistance Advisory Group -- Vietnam (1954-1963): The Battle of Ap Bac" (U.S. Army Maj. Kevin R. Kilbride, thesis, 2012): @