Discuss the significance of Operation Delaware.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the time frame of the Vietnam Conflict, Operation Delaware takes place after Tet.  At this point in the war, the United States was fully committed to turning back the enemy at any particular opportunity it could afford to take.  Fighting was in the rural areas and in the city.  Tet had shown that the North Vietnamese were able to take just as well as they could give.  The focus in Operation Delaware was a valley that operated as a channel to fortify supplies into South Vietnam.  The capture of the valley was done through aerial bombing and then ground force insertion.  The combination of both led to high casualty counts for the North Vietnamese.  Given the high ratio of killed between American and South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese, the casualty count on the latter made sense.  The American and South Vietnamese forces were able to capture the valley.  However, once these forces were extracted, the area succumbed quickly to the North Vietnamese forces, necessitating another strike and attack formula later on in the war.  This demonstrates the short lived success of the battle and also helped to encapsulate why the war was such a challenge for the American forces, whereas traditional definitions of victory had to be altered in light of attrition- based benchmarks, demonstrated with the cyclical nature of Operation Delaware.