Cu Chi tunnels

Cu Chi tunnels


During the Vietnam War, communist guerrilla forces known as the Viet Cong dug a Cu Chi tunnels network to counter the better-equipped American and South Vietnamese forces. A network of tunnels ran under the Cu Chi district northwest of Saigon. Soldiers also used these underground tunnels to house their troops, communicate, transport equipment, set traps, and launch surprise attacks. Today, the Cu Chi Tunnels are a popular tourist attraction located in the Vietnam War Memorial Park in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Communist forces began to dig a network of tunnels under the jungle landscape of South Vietnam already in the late 1940s, when the war of independence with the French colonial power. The tunnels were dug by hand and only in small stages. Củ Chi tunnels – Wikipedia

Geneva Peace Conference

The first Indochina war ended with the defeat of the French, where Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, in Hanoi at 1945. However, at the Geneva Peace Conference in 1954, Vietnam was divided into two halves, creating socialist North Vietnam and capitalist South Vietnam. In the early 1960s, the United States began to increase its military presence in South Vietnam. At the same time, North Vietnamese communist auxiliaries and Viet Cong forces gradually expanded their tunnels further. At its peak during the Vietnam War, the network of tunnels was already about 250 km long, connecting the outskirts of Saigon to the Cambodian border.

As the US war effort relied heavily on aerial bombardment, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces went underground to survive. At the same time, successful guerrilla warfare continued against a much better equipped enemy. In heavily bombed areas, people spent most of their lives underground. They created underground tunnels with living quarters, kitchens, ammunition factories, hospitals and bomb shelters. In some quieter areas, they built theaters and rooms to listenin music to persuade the peasants to defect to them side.

War with the Cu Chi Tunnels

In addition to providing shelter, the Cu Chi tunnels also played a key role in combat operations against Saigon, where US soldiers and their allies were stationed. Lurking in the tunnels, the Viet Cong soldiers laid numerous traps for the US and South Vietnamese infantrymen, where in addition to the explosive charges and the collapse of the tunnel, they were trapped in some parts of the tunnel along with poisonous scorpions and snakes. To counter such tactics, the US military trained soldiers as so-called “tunnel rats”. These trained soldiers were usually small in stature, so that they could move successfully for several hours in narrow, dark tunnels, detecting various traps and looking for a certain location for enemy forces.

In January 1966, 8,000 US and Australian troops attempted to wipe out the Cu Chi district. The name of the operation was “Crimp”, which meant a large-scale bombing. After the frenzied bombing of the jungle area by B-52 planes, it was realized that there was little point as the enemy forces disappeared through the network of tunnels. A year later, a new military operation “Cedar Falls” was launched by about 30,000 Americans. The operation targeted Binh Duong province near the Cambodian border. The province was called the iron triangle, where enemies nested both in the network of tunnels and on the ground. After actively bombing the surrounding jungle areas and poisoning the rice fields with powerful herbicides, US tanks and bulldozers arrived to put the finishing touches on the operation. As a result, several thousand locals fled the region. During the TET New Year in early 1968, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces returned to the remaining tunnels that had been successfully used in their successful offensive to liberate Saigon.

Read more: Ho Chi Minh City

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