positions to allied destruction and at the same time losing the capacity
to launch attacks into the lowlands in the immediate future.
Throughout the last seven months of 1968, Marine, Army, and ARVN troops
continued the relentless and successful pursuit and destruction of enemy
forces in northern I Corps. But as the year ended, the enemy avoided
contact while maintaining widely dispersed elements of his main force
units in the northern two provinces of South Vietnam and regrouping,
resupplying, and retraining in his sanctuaries in Laos and North Vietnam.
For the 3d Marine Division, the tactical situation throughout Quang
Tri Province during the latter half of 1968 dictated the maximum use
of its combat elements in a highly mobile posture. This was a change
from the relatively static posture during the early part of the year.
Continually on the offensive with hard-hitting mobile operations, troops
of the 3d, 4th, and 9th Marines in rapid succession drove North Vietnamese
forces from the coastal plains, crushed the 320th NVA Division,
and penetrated and systematically destroyed the enemy's mountain bases,
areas once considered inviolate. Still as one Marine veteran of the
3d Marine Division later commented that all he remembered was "the rain,
the mud, the heat and the misery that were so much a part of our existence."
The last two months of the year were a blur of "routine patrols marked
by little or no contact with the enemy."20
In both Quang Tri and Thua Thien Provinces, nevertheless, a concerted campaign featuring the integration of American, South Vietnamese Army, and territorial forces disrupted the Viet Cong military and political structure in the population centers. The two allied offensives against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong had, by year's end, rendered the enemy incapable of conducting an effective campaign in northern I Corps.