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Originally named after a mountain range that traverses through Vietnam and Laos, the Truong Son Road served as logistical support to communist insurgencies in South Vietnam. Americans later named it the Ho Chi Minh Trail, after the Vietnamese Communist leader who had strongly opposed the French colonial regime and U.S. intervention in his country. With its advanced military engineering in the 20th century, this trail is believed to be one of the determining factors that brought the Communist North to victory during the Vietnam War.
See the fact file below for more information on the Ho Chi Minh Trail or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Ho Chi Minh Trail worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TRAIL
- In 1959, as the relations drastically declined between North and South Vietnam, the Lao Dong Party, a communist alliance in Vietnam, decided to build a tactical road system to transport soldiers, weapons, and other war supplies in support of the growing communist movement in the south.
- On May 9, 1959, in celebration of Ho Chi Minh’s birthday, the construction began as the Military Transport Division 559 was established.
- General Vo Bam spear- headed the construction of the routing system, together with 440 young men and women.
- Consisting of interconnected road paths and waterways, the trail was operational by August, 1959. Ammunition and rifles in around 20 boxes were the first supplies delivered to Viet Cong insurgents in the south. Nearly 1,800 soldiers had passed through the route by the end of that year.
EXPANSION OF THE TRAIL
- During the early 1960’s, the North Vietnamese government in Hanoi campaigned for a massive improvement of the trail. This was done in secrecy. Hence, the trail was more than just a series of jungle trails; it was a political, strategic, and economic anchor of the ongoing war.
- Consequently, engineers were designated to expand the walkways into flat roads. Bridges were improved to support truck convoys able to transport soldiers at night.
- They also built training centers in Son Loc and Xuan Mai to train troops on how to camouflage while traversing the road paths.
- Bicycles were also introduced in the replacement of porters on foot to increase soldiers’ mobility and to carry larger loads.
DESCRIPTION AND ROLE OF THE TRAIL
- The Ho Chi Minh Trail is a highly organized system of routes situated in the west out of North Vietnam and south along the Truong Son Mountain Range that passed through neighboring countries Cambodia and Laos.
- It was a 16,000-kilometer (9,940-mile) network of tracks, dirt roads, and river crossings which served as a lynchpin for Northern Vietnamese forces amidst the revolutionary warfare.
- Before the operation of the trail, it took a North Vietnamese soldier six months to navigate the dangerous journey through the jungle to reach the south. It was almost impossible to survive due to illnesses (such as malaria), hunger, and animal attacks. But with improved military engineering, it would only take one week to go to the south as main roads also detoured to Laos.
- There were underground base camps built in the trail which became a sanctuary for thousands of soldiers who were either injured or had fallen ill as secret networks of tunnels with hidden entrances were created.
- Communication devices, medicinal needs, food, and weapons were also concealed underground.
- It allowed the transport of nearly 20,000 Hanoi troops to South Vietnam by 1967.
ATTACKS AGAINST THE TRAIL
- In an attempt to curb the spread of communism and growing revolution in the southern region of Vietnam, the United States participated in the ongoing warfare supporting the South Vietnamese forces. The Ho Chi Minh Trail became a subject of U.S. intelligence units.
- From 1964 to 1965, the U.S. government conducted Operation Rolling Thunder, which dropped aerial bombardments attacking the Trail; however, communist forces were still successful in sending supplies to their allies in the south.
- In 1966, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara addressed a letter to the President of the United States describing the operations on the Ho Chi Minh Trail as a threat in the war effort.
- Following this, U.S. military forces launched counter-revolutionary tactics, such as Operation Leaping Lena and Operation Shining Brass, aimed at disrupting the delivery of war supplies to South Vietnam but again were unsuccessful. They also initiated the creation of a barrier, called the McNamara Line, made from barbed wires and minefields intended to stop the continuous passage of soldiers on the trail. It was eventually stopped by counter-attacks of the National Liberation Front (NLF) in 1967.
- The world superpower faced dissenting criticism and controversies as the U.S. State Department revealed that the bombings were a direct command from then-president Lyndon Johnson and eventually suspended the aerial attacks in North Vietnam.
- On November 15, 1968, the U.S. and its allies initiated Operation Commando Hunt, another American bombing raid, which continued until 1971.
- In the spate of relentless airstrikes, more than 1.7 million tons of bombs were dropped by the U.S., destroying 9,000 to 12,000 trucks and killing thousands of Northern Vietnamese soldiers. Due to the extreme loss of life, the trail became known as “The Blood Road.”
- But amidst the repeated bombings, the Hanoi communist forces strengthened their anti-aircraft measures and were able to deploy 8,000 to 10,000 military troops. Consequently, the efforts of the U.S. to control activities on the trail were deemed unsuccessful.
- In 1973, after the Paris Peace Accords had been signed, American intervention measures slowed down, leaving the trail in continuous development and improvement.
- By 1973, the Ho Chi Minh Trail served as a two-way highway that ran through North Vietnam to South Vietnam. It was further expanded as a four-lane highway with four oil pipelines.
LEGACY OF THE TRAIL
- In present times, the network of tracks and roadways on the Ho Chi Minh Trail remain unchanged, thus signifying the role of military engineering which led to the victory of the Hanoi government in a divisive war which lasted for nearly 20 long years.
Ho Chi Minh Trail Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Ho Chi Minh Trail across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Ho Chi Minh Trail worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Originally named after a mountain range that traverses through Vietnam and Laos, the Truong Son Road served as logistical support to communist insurgencies in South Vietnam. Americans later named it the Ho Chi Minh Trail, after the Vietnamese Communist leader who had strongly opposed the French colonial regime and U.S. intervention in his country. With its advanced military engineering in the 20th century, this trail is believed to be one of the determining factors that brought the Communist North to victory during the Vietnam War.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Ho Chi Minh Trail Facts
- Tracing the Trail
- Find the Word
- Complete the Information
- Ho Chi Minh
- Ho Chi Minh Trail: Timeline
- News Writing: The Ho Chi Minh Trail
- Editorial Cartoon
- Collage Making
- In a Nutshell
- Another Trail
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Link will appear as Ho Chi Minh Trail Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 19, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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