Into a ragged rubber plantation 30 miles northwest of Saigon swarmed 115 helicopters. The craft disgorged 1,100 taut, trigger-happy South Vietnamese troops while another 6,000 men charged in aboard armored personnel carriers to block potential escape routes. Rockets laced the 40-sq.-mi. area, smashing huts and sending greasy black smoke pluming skyward, while a 19-boat force stirred up the Saigon River in watchful patrol. This was "Operation Brushfire"the long-awaited, widely discussed push against the Viet Cong of Binh Duong province, the men who had probably mortared
Biehhoa airbase and destroyed 13 U.S. bombers (TiME, Nov. 13).
It should have been called "Backfire."