Battle of Hamburger Hill

The Battle of Hamburger Hill was a battle of the Vietnam War which was fought between the United States and South Vietnam and North Vietnamese forces from May 10–20, 1969.

Although the heavily fortified Hill 937 was of little strategic value, U.S. command ordered its capture by direct assault.

The battle was primarily an infantry affair, with the U.S. Airborne troops moving up the highly sloped hill against well entrenched troops. Attacks were repeatedly repelled by weather, friendly fire, accidents, and especially the highly effective Vietnam People's Army (PAVN) defenses. Nevertheless the Airborne troops took the hill through direct assault, causing extensive casualties to the PAVN forces, and taking such in their own units. The debacle caused an outrage both in the American military and public.

The Hamburger Hill battle had run afoul of a fundamental war-fighting equation. Master philosopher of war Karl von Clausewitz emphasized almost a century and a half earlier that because war is controlled by its political object, "the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it both in magnitude and also in duration." He went on to say, "Once the expenditure of effort exceeds the value of the political object, the object must be renounced." And that's exactly what happened. The expenditure of effort at Hamburger Hill exceeded the value the American people attached to the war in Vietnam. The public had turned against the war a year and a half earlier, and it was their intense reaction to the cost of that battle in American lives, inflamed by sensationalist media reporting, that forced the Nixon administration to order the end of major tactical ground operations.