IAP 18W (July 2022) The Son Tay Raid
by Kenneth Segelhorst
On November 21, 1970, U.S. Forces conducted a daring POW rescue attempt into a North Vietnam prison camp. In InterAgency Paper No. 18W: The Son Tay Raid author Kenneth Segelhorst shows how with ground forces led Army Special Forces Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons and overall mission commander Air Force Brig. Gen. LeRoy Manor, the operation known as the Son Tay Raid is a masterful demonstration of surprise, concentration, audacity, and tempo. Although the mission failed to recover any U.S. POWs, it was highly successful at both the tactical and strategic levels and proved that, despite the North Vietnamese air defense network, U.S. forces could inflict punishment in North Vietnam without massive bombing campaigns. The element of surprise enabled the numerically inferior ground forces to concentrate overwhelming firepower. Though the plan was audacious, the overall concept of the operation was fairly simple and remained relatively unchanged since its inception. Furthermore, leaders deliberately controlled the tempo throughout the preparation and execution of the operation realizing the importance of conducting very deliberate planning and preparation for the raid, ultimately leading to its success.
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