Khe Sanh from 1967 to 1972.

Khe Sanh, just before the Tet Offensive in 1968.  A C-130 aircraft can be seen on the tarmac.

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Hill 861 in 1967

Hills 881 North and 881 South

North Vietnam's True Intentions At Khe Sanh

One of the challenges in determining Hanoi's true intentions during its siege at the U.S. base at Khe Sanh is that the "military history" can serve as an argument for several conclusions.  There are those that say North Vietnam never actually intended to take the base.  There is good evidence for this argument.  Others insist this was a primary object and can point to numerous regiments the NVA committed to battle, all of which were at great risk of being destroyed by a massive B-52 campaign.

Forgetting the debate for a moment, we can look at aerial photographs to have a better idea about this air campaign.  The NVA may not have intended to take Khe Sanh, though U.S. artillery and air strikes certainly intended to neutralize these units.  This firepower would have made a ground attack against Khe Sanh very difficult.

  © Thomas F. Pike, 2020

Hilltop bases around Khe Sanh

1967 satellite imagery of the Marine combat base at Khe Sanh and some of the surrounding hills.

Khe Sanh can just be see in the upper left corner of this imagery.  This photo is from 1972, just after Hanoi's Eastertide Offensive.  Years of air strikes in this contested corner of I Corps are now evident by the light grey dots in this photograph.

Completing the Narrative on Vietnam(SM).   Thomas F. Pike