Operation Attleboro

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Operation Attleboro
Part of the Vietnam War
US Infantry Deploy from UH-1D Vietnam.jpg
Infantrymen attacking out of a UH-1D helicopter during Operation Attleboro.
DateSeptember 14 – November 25, 1966
Northwest of Dau Tieng, South Vietnam
Result See Aftermath
Flag of the United States.svg United States
Flag of South Vietnam.svg South Vietnam
FNL Flag.svg Viet Cong
Flag of Vietnam.svg North Vietnam
Commanders and leaders
Guy S. Meloy
William E. DePuy
Units involved

1st Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division
25th Infantry Division

FNL Flag.svg 9th VC Division
Vietnam 101st NVA Regiment
Casualties and losses
155 killed
517 wounded
5 missing
US body count: 2,130 killed
900 wounded
200+ missing or captured

Operation Attleboro was a Vietnam War search and destroy operation by the 196th Light Infantry Brigade with the objective to discover the location(s) of the North Vietnamese or Viet Cong base areas and force them to fight. The operation was named after Attleboro, Massachusetts, where the brigade had been formed. Operation Attleboro turned out to be the largest series of air mobile operations to that time, involving all or elements of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, 25th Division, 1st Infantry Division, and a brigade of the 4th Division, as well as numerous Army of the Republic of Vietnam and Regional Forces/Popular Forces and Nungs. In the end, the operation became a corps operation commanded by II Field Forces.


The 196th Light Infantry Brigade initiated Operation Attleboro on September 14, 1966 in the Tay Ninh Province, however no significant contact was made with North Vietnamese Army (NVA) or Viet Cong (VC) forces until October 19, 1966 when a sizable NVA base area was discovered.[1] By early November, U.S. forces had expanded to include the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 27th Infantry Regiment (25th Infantry Division), the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and two brigades of the 1st Infantry Division.[2]

The most significant fighting occurred when Viet Cong forces assaulted the US perimeter at Suoi Da on November 8. The assault was defeated by artillery and air strikes. Afterwards, a large Viet Cong base camp was detected. It was one of the largest hauls to date in the war, with the American forces seizing two million pounds of rice; 116 transportation bicycles; approximately 25,000 Chinese-made hand grenades (many containing tear gas); 481 M18 Claymore anti-personnel mines; 80 rocket launchers; 25 machine guns; myriad number of pistols; rifles like AKMs and AK-47s; clothing; tobacco; miscellaneous foods like cooking oil, salt and fish; and a bounty of petroleum.

Operation Attleboro was the first field test of the U.S. Army's new search and destroy doctrine and set a pattern that would be later exhibited other large operations including Cedar Falls and Junction City. These operations began with massive B-52 Arc Light bombing strikes followed by helicopter and ground sweeps that usually made sporadic contact with VC and NVA forces. Americans often uncovered evidence of hasty departure (i.e. abandoned camps, vacated tunnels, caches of food and supplies) indicating that the communist forces had been alerted by the preparations for upcoming search-and-destroy missions.[3]

U.S. Forces Task Organization[4][edit]

Phase I (14 September to 31 October) Phase II (31 October to 5 November) Phase III (5-10 November) Phase IV (10-25 November) Support Units
196th Infantry Brigade (Light) (Separate) 196th Infantry Brigade (Light) (Separate)
  • 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry
  • 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry
  • 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 82nd Artillery
  • A Battery/1st Battalion, 8th Artillery (Attached 4 November)
  • C Battery/3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery (General Support, reinforcing 2 November)
  • Platoon/B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery (Attached 3 November)
196th Infantry Brigade Task Force (attached to 1st Infantry Division)
  • 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry
  • 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry (attached to 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry 8–10 November)
  • 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry (attached to 1st Infantry Division 5–11 November)
  • 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry (attached to 1st Infantry Division 6–10 November)
2nd Brigade Task Force
  • 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry (10 November)
  • 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry
  • 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry (11 November)
  • 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry
  • 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (13 November)
  • 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery

196th Infantry Brigade Task Force

  • 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry
  • 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion, 82nd Artillery
25th Aviation Battalion

11th Aviation Battalion 13th Aviation Battalion

  • 175th Aviation Company

52nd Aviation Battalion

  • 117th Aviation Company

145th Aviation Battalion

  • 68th Aviation Company
  • 71st Aviation Company
  • 118th Aviation Company


US intelligence later estimated VC/PAVN losses during Operation Attleboro as 2,130 killed, 900 wounded, and over 200 missing or captured. Allied losses totaled 155 killed and 494 wounded.[5] Other estimates put the figure at 500 PAVN/VC killed, and roughly 127 guns and 19 crew-guns recovered[6].

U.S. military spokesmen claimed that the most significant result of Operation Attleboro was the severe blow struck against the communists' supply system, however, the operation failed to eradicate VC political domination in Tay Ninh Province, as they quietly returned to the area from their sanctuaries in Cambodia just after the American withdrawal.[7]


  1. ^ Summers, The Vietnam War Almanac, p. 39-40.
  2. ^ Olson, In Country: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, p. 415.
  3. ^ Kutler, Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, p. 516.
  4. ^ "Combat Operations After Action Report, Operation Attleboro" (PDF). United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  5. ^ Tucker 2011, p. 81.
  6. ^ Jr, Ronald B. Frankum (2011-06-10). Historical Dictionary of the War in Vietnam. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810879560.
  7. ^ Daddis 2011, p. 7.