Almost 10 years ago, I spent 6 weeks in Vietnam with a couple of friends, wending our way up from Saigon in the South to Hanoi in the North.
One of the most interesting experiences was visiting the Tunnels of Cu Chi: the underground maze about 70kms outside of Saigon, from which the Communist Viet Cong waged their successful guerilla war against the US-led South.
These days, the tunnels have been enlarged for venal Western tourists. Even so, it wasn’t easy shimmying down narrow ladders, squeezing through passages sideways and dragging ourselves through tiny chokepoints on our elbows.
From the surface, you would never have imagined the underground city below. The tunnel network even included makeshift operating theatres, lecture theatres, dormitories, mess halls and ammo dumps.
You’d think that “stuff” below the surface would have presented a big target for the Allied/Southern forces to take aim at. And they tried everything…
They tried bombing the hell out of the tunnels with 30,000 kg “bunker buster” bombs.
Unfortunately, the unique geological structure of the soil meant that even massive explosive ordnance would only collapse a very narrow radius as the earth soaked up the force like a sponge.
They tried flooding the tunnel network with megalitres of water. But the VC built watertight trapdoors to keep the water out.
Then they tried poison gas. But the guerillas installed water-filled “airlocks” that foiled that plan as well.
The only strategy that actually gained some traction was putting together a special squad, dubbed … Read More >>