Tunnel Warfare

  • The Vietnam War
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

One of the most effective counter-measures of  The Viet Cong Fighters against The American Military,  was their use of offensive and defensive Tunnels.  While Tunneling in warfare is actually many Centuries old, The Viet Cong became Masters of this unique form of Combat. Using crude implements, they were able to construct  many hundreds of miles of interconnecting Tunnel Systems. Many of these Tunnels led to complex underground facilities that included: Hospitals, Supply Depots and living quarters. Some Tunnels were only several feet in width while others were several hundred.


Many of The Tunnels had escape openings very well concealed from view. In most cases, one could walk over one and never be aware of it. They were equally effective in Combat, as often allowed The Viet Cong to appear to literally “disappear” when they encounter overwhelming American and Allied Firepower.


Of the Tunnels, The Chu Chi were the best known. Hundreds of feet deep and wide, whole Regiments could hide in them safety. Despite their effectiveness, they were still a hotbed for illness and disease. American Forces were well aware that The Tunnels Systems were a major tactical problem and launched several Operations to destroy them. One of the largest was Operation: “Crimp”, in 1966. 


The Tunnels developed as a means of supplementing The Ho Chi Minh Trail. This was the primary supply route of NVA and VC Forces between North and South Vietnam. Consistent Bombing Raids by America, made it’s use difficult. With the Tunnels, movement was safer.


In addition to Operation: “Crimp”, several American and Australian Infantry Divisions were deployed to interdict The Tunnels. Selected Soldiers were chosen to go into Enemy Tunnels after bombing Missions to “root out” possible survivors or recovered intelligence. These Men became known as “Tunnel Rats”. Chosen for their slender and thin physique (for maneuvering in the often tight confines). Armed with only a Flashlight and Handgun, often they would fall prey to clever Booby Traps. Incredibly, many Tunnel Rats would survive The War to tell their “tale”. Today, large sections of The Tunnel System still survive. In fact, they have been renovated and turned into a form of “Tourist Attraction” to Visitors to Vietnam. Able to go deep inside, one can experience the life of a Viet Cong Soldier.