Armed Forces: Policing the Dragons

As villagers stared curiously from the banks, a flotilla of 20 olive-green, gnat-size boats swarmed into South Viet Nam's Long Tan River for the first time last week. Planing over the water at better than 25 knots, they looked from a distance more like pleasure craft than fighting ships. In fact, they are the U.S. Navy's newest weapon against the Viet Cong, who by some estimates smuggle at least 50% of all their supplies from North Viet Nam along the Mekong River's nine tributaries—known to the Chinese as "the nine dragons"—and its labyrinth of interconnecting...

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