THE WAR: Cautious Crawl Through Laos

When the allies invaded Cambodia last spring, exuberant South Vietnamese units thrust 24 miles into the Parrot's Beak area in the very first day. Last week, 14 days after the first ARVN troops pushed across the Laotian border to strike at the Ho Chi Minh Trail network, they had covered only some 15 miles and were coming under increasingly intense enemy pressure. U.S. commanders insisted that Operation Lam Son 719, despite its slow pace, was scoring military gains. But Defense Secretary Melvin Laird warned President Nixon that the 17,000 ARVN troops and the 9,000 Americans who are providing logistical...

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