Ho Chi Minh Trail

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Location map of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in southern Laos, 1967

The Ho Chi Minh Path ( name used by the Americans , Vietnamese : Đường mòn Hồ Chí Minh ) or Truong-Son strategic supply route ( name used by the Vietnamese People's Army , Vietnamese Tuyến vận tải chiến lược Trường sơn ), was a during The logistics network of roads and other traffic routes used during the Indochina War and the Vietnam War , which led from North Vietnam via Laos and Cambodia to South Vietnam . The western name Ho Chi Minh Trail is derived from the North Vietnamese President Hồ Chí Minh . The name used in Vietnam refers to the Truong Son mountain range in eastern Indochina, which was crossed by the supply route.


The traffic route through Laos was already used during the Indochina War to ensure logistical support for the south through the north. For this purpose, the roads over the Nape Pass and the Mu-Gia Pass were expanded. During the Vietnam War , the roads were further improved and trucks could also be used. The two aforementioned passes quickly became targets of American bombing.

Operation Barrel Roll , a secret mission carried out on Laotian soil in parallel to the Vietnam War, bombed the Nape Pass very heavily, so that the Mu Gia Pass became the main entry point into the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Despite numerous devastating air strikes by US warplanes during Operation Rolling Thunder , traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail could not be brought to a standstill. Many roads could be used by trucks, but some sections were only small footpaths and cycle paths, so that the material had to be reloaded and temporarily stored in depots. Destroyed sections were repaired as quickly as possible so that traffic was only briefly interrupted by the bombing. In June 1965, truck traffic over the Mu-Gia Pass came to a standstill after the US Air Force made the road unusable with daily air raids. It was previously estimated that 200 to 350 tons of material was transported on the Ho Chi Minh Trail every day.

In March 1966, the trucks were back on the road and it was estimated that 75% of all traffic to Laos was through the Mu-Gia Pass. From this year the Vietnamese People's Army deployed the Soviet ZIL-157 , which was able to take an average of three tons of material per load instead of just two tons. Nevertheless, it was assumed that 70 to 90 tons of goods were transported every day.

Because the neighboring countries Laos and Cambodia were officially neutral to the conflict in Vietnam, the United States could not attack the Ho Chi Minh Trail with ground troops . After Washington stopped the bombing of North Vietnam in March 1968, the military columns covered longer distances in North Vietnam and only used the Ban Karai Pass , which is further south compared to the previously used passes , to get to Laos. On November 11, 1968, the United States started the secret mission Operation Commando Hunt , which attempted to destroy the road network by bombing neutral Laos, especially on the Bolaven Plateau . The Americans discovered a particularly sensitive point on the supply line at Ban Lobôy, where the fords through the Bangfai River were laid. The place is considered the most heavily bombed place in the world. The project failed and it was not possible to hinder the transports to a large extent or even to stop them completely, as the path was ramified and covered by vegetation and damaged sections were easy to bypass. In order to be able to recognize the paths of the Ho Chi Minh Trail during aerial operations, the corresponding regions were sprayed with Agent Orange to defoliate the vegetation from the air .

See also


  • Hellmut Kapfenberger: Ho Chi Minh Path. The story of the legendary supply route. Verlag Wiljo Heinen, Berlin and Böklund 2019, ISBN 978-3-95514-039-7 .

Web links

Commons : Ho Chi Minh Path  - Collection of Images
Wiktionary: Ho Chi Minh Path  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Strategic supply route Truong Son - Ho Chi Minh Path - the uniqueness of the war of the Vietnamese people. 19th May 2014 .;
  2. CIA (ed.): Interdiction of Communist Infiltration Routes in Vietnam . Intelligence Memorandum. ( ttu.edu [PDF]).
  3. Jacob Van Staaveren: Interdiction in Southern Laos from 1960 to 1968 . Center for Air Force History, 1993, ISBN 978-1-4102-2060-8 , pp. 135-137.
  4. CIA (ed.): Buildup of Vietnamese Communist Forces continues after resumption of air attacks . Intelligence Memorandum. February 21, 1966, Supply Routes in Laos ( ttu.edu [PDF]).
  5. Ho Chi Minh Trail Before and Now Photos. In: Explore Indochina. Retrieved on November 10, 2018 : "One crossing point, called Ban Laboy, is reckoned to be the most heavily bombed place on the planet."
  6. Hellmut Kapfenberger: "Ho Chi Minh Path". Verlag Wiljo Heinen, accessed on May 10, 2019 .