Re: REMEMBER: ALAMO, PERAL HARBOR, KHE SANH...
Impact of Khe Sanh
News reports of the Battle of Khe Sanh consistently referred to the struggle as another Dien Bien Phu, but in reality the U.S. and South Vietnamese enjoyed a much stronger position than had the French. In addition to a fleet of helicopters and cargo planes that could resupply and reinforce the besieged Marines, they could rely on the heavy bombing capacity of the B-52 fighter planes, which dropped close to 100,000 tons of explosives on the hills surrounding Khe Sanh over the course of the battle. Though U.S. officials expected a full-scale attack by North Vietnamese forces on the base, it never came, and in March Westmoreland ordered Operation Pegasus, a joint Army, Marine and ARVN ground advance that relieved the base and ended the siege by mid-April, after some 77 days.
In the face of criticism that he had fallen victim to the North Vietnamese diversionary tactic, Westmoreland defended his decision to defend Khe Sanh, and claimed the battle as a victory in that it prevented the enemy from gaining control over the northwest corner of South Vietnam and inflicted heavy losses on PAVN forces. As antiwar sentiment mounted on the home front in the wake of the Tet Offensive, the Johnson administration had lost confidence in the general's strategy of attrition and his claims of progress in the war effort. On March 31, Johnson announced he was halting most of the bombing attacks in North Vietnam and opening peace negotiations; he also withdrew his candidacy for reelection. General Creighton W. Abrams replaced Westmoreland as MACV head in June 1968, and on July 5 he closed the U.S. Marine base at Khe Sanh.