Vietnam War operations

This page contains a timeline of significant Vietnam War operations. These military operations and campaigns were carried out by American, South Vietnamese and allied forces in Vietnam during the conflict there.


August: Operation Passage to Freedom. The US Navy’s repatriation of some 300,000 civilians from North Vietnam to the South, under the provisions of the Geneva Accords. Passage to Freedom continued until May 1955.


August: Operation Pierce Arrow. The US Navy conducts a series of airstrikes against North Vietnamese ports and boat bases, in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
October: Operation Project Delta. A nationwide reconnaissance mission to locate and evaluate Viet Cong strongholds across South Vietnam. Project Delta continued until 1970.
December: Operation Barrel Roll. The bombing of communist insurgents in Laos, in support of the Laotian royal army. This operation lasted until March 1973.


February 7th: Operation Flaming Dart. A three week aerial bombing mission against North Vietnamese Army bases and barracks in central Vietnam.
March 2nd: Operation Rolling Thunder. A sustained bombing campaign of North Vietnam, focusing on military targets and supply routes. Rolling Thunder lasted until the end of October.
March 11th: Operation Market Time. A series of interventions to halt the flow of arms and supplies between North and South Vietnam. It was followed by Operation Steel Tiger (April to November 1965).
June 18th: Operation Arc Light. The deployment of B52 aircraft to bomb known communist bases across South Vietnam.
December 8th: Operation Tiger Hound. An operation to interrupt and halt movement along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This continued until November 1968.
December 18th: Operation Game Warden. A mission to curtail Viet Cong activities in the Mekong Delta.


January 8th: Operation Crimp. A week-long mission conducted by US and Australian forces in Cu Chi province. It uncovered an extensive network of Viet Cong tunnels.
February 11th: Operation Rolling Stone. A joint US, Australian and New Zealand search and destroy operation in Binh Duong province.
March 4th: Operation Utah. A US-ARVN search and destroy operation against Viet Cong and NVA personnel in Quang Ngai.
March 29th: Operation Abilene. A search and destroy operation against a battle hardened Viet Cong unit in Phuoc Tuy province, carried out by US, Australian and New Zealand forces.
April 24th: Operation Birmingham. A successful US-ARVN joint operation against the Viet Cong, north of Saigon.
August 3rd: Operation Prairie. A six month operation against NVA forces located south of the demilitarised zone.
October 25th: Operation Sea Dragon. A week-long US-Australian naval operation, to halt and intercept sea movement between North and South Vietnam.


January 6th: Operation Deckhouse Five. A ten-day amphibious sweep through the Mekong delta to locate and eradicate Viet Cong strongholds there.
January 8th: Operation Cedar Falls
. A three week search and destroy operation, targeting Viet Cong in the Cu Chi ‘Iron Triangle’, north of Saigon.
February 22nd: Operation Junction City. A 12-week joint US-ARVN operation in Tay Ninh province, on the Cambodian border. The largest US airborne operation of the war, its mission was to capture or destroy a major Viet Cong command centre. Though it failed in this mission, Junction City did result in significant losses for the Viet Cong.
March 5th: Operation Popeye. An American operation to seed clouds with iodides, in order to extend monsoonal rains over Viet Cong territory. One of its objectives was to make the Ho Chi Minh trail less passable.
April: Operation Daniel Boone. A series of incursions into Cambodia by US special forces, in order to locate enemy bases, transit routes and supply dumps.
April 26th: Operation Beacon Star. US operations to clear NVA units from the hills around Khe Sahn. A precursor to the larger battle at Khe Sahn in early 1968.


January: Operation Igloo White. A five year campaign to gather intelligence, largely through the use of airborne and electronic surveillance devices. Enemy trails were detected and seeded with mines.
January 24th: Operation Coburg. A joint Australian and New Zealand operation in Bien Hoa province in Vietnam’s south-east.


July: Operation Duck Hook. A proposed campaign of heavy bombing against North Vietnamese targets that included the use of tactical nuclear weapons. It was suggested by Henry Kissinger, to force Hanoi into a peace deal, but was rejected by Richard Nixon.
March 18th: Operation Menu. The prolonged US bombing of communist positions in Cambodia and Laos, lasting more than 14 months. It was broken into smaller operations dubbed Lunch, Snack, Dinner, Dessert and Supper. While Operation Menu killed large numbers of communist soldiers, it failed to prevent enemy operations in Cambodia and Laos.


February 17th: Operation Good Luck. A series of US bombing runs against NVA and Pathet Lao forces in northern Laos.
April 24th: Operation Patio. Secret US bombing missions against enemy positions in north-eastern Cambodia.
May 19th: Operation Freedom Deal. A prolonged and extensive US bombing mission against NVA and Khmer Rouge forces in Cambodia.
August 22nd: Operation Chenla. A major operation by Cambodian government forces against NVA and Viet Cong units in eastern Cambodia. It continued until February 1971 and produced some limited gains.


April 8th: Operation Montana Mustang: A series of search and destroy missions against Viet Cong in Quang Tri province.
June 6th: Operation Overlord. An Australian offensive operation in Long Khanh province, south-east Vietnam.
August 20th: Operation Chenla II. A second Cambodian government offensive against NVA and Viet Cong units in Cambodia. The NVA-Viet Cong were victorious, though losses were heavy on both sides.
September 6th: Operation Lam Son 810. A joint ARVN-US operation in Quang Tri province against North Vietnamese supply lines.


April 1st: Operation Eastertide. A South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) offensive against North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces in Quang Tri, a response to the NVA’s Easter Offensive.
April 5th: Operation Freedom Train. A five week campaign of US bombing against North Vietnam and NVA positions, launched in retaliation for the Easter Offensive.
May 9th: Operation Linebacker. A series of bombing runs against North Vietnamese bases and cities, particularly Hanoi and Haiphong. It was intended to pressure the North Vietnamese government into a peace deal.
May 17th: Operation Enhance and Enhance Plus. Two administrative missions that transferred US bases and military supplies to the ARVN in the second half of 1972. This transfer was a precursor to the Paris peace agreement.
June 3rd: Operation Thunderhead. A commando raid by US Navy SEALS to rescue American prisoners escaping from the ‘Hanoi Hilton’. The mission was abandoned after one SEAL was killed jumping from a helicopter.
December 18th: Operation Linebacker II. The resumption of US bombing attacks on Hanoi, Haiphong and other strategic targets in North Vietnam. It was undertaken to force Hanoi to resume peace negotiations in Paris.


February 12th: Operation Homecoming. A two month mission to recover, treat and repatriate American prisoners of war previously held in North Vietnam.
April 27th: Operation Svay Rieng. A South Vietnamese offensive against NVA ground troops in the Mekong delta.


April 3rd: Operation Babylift. A three week operation to evacuate children and orphans from South Vietnam, for resettlement in the United States and other allied countries. Between 3,000 and 4,000 children were evacuated during this operation.
April 12th: Operation Eagle Pull. A brief mission to evacuate Americans, Cambodians and other nationalities from Phnom Penh, prior to its fall to the Khmer Rouge.
April 23rd: Operation New Life. An operation to process around 130,000 South Vietnamese refugees, who were being temporarily accommodated on Guam. This operation took six months and the majority of refugees were resettled in the United States.
April 29th: Operation Frequent Wind: A two-day mission to extract and remove American civilians and endangered foreign persons from Saigon, prior to the city’s capture by the NVA.

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