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Anti-Infiltration Barrier Technology and the Battle for Southeast Asia, 1966-1972

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Early in 1966, with American bombing efforts in Viet Nam achieving limited affect in stemming the flow of support to communist forces in the south, the U.S. defense establishment began casting about for alternatives. By late summer this research had crystallized into a plan for a barrier that stretched from the Gulf of Tonkin into Laos across the 17th parallel. Comprised of both physical and electronic components, the idea caught the eye of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara who established a Joint Task Force to implement the program. Given one year to have a system in place, the Defense Communications Planning Group DCPG pulled out all the stops to bring the program to fruition. Gradually shifting emphasis from the physical barrier in the DMZ region to the electronic system further west, DCPG oversaw all phases of the program from Washington, D.C. to Eglin AFB, to Panama to Southeast Asia. A detailed examination of the successes and failures of DCPG and by extension the barrier system was conducted utilizing all facets of the historical record. Emphasis was placed on accurately rendering the history and contribution of the program using primary sources. This electronic anti-infiltration barrier was variously called Practice Nine, Muscle Shoals and Igloo White and came to be popularly called McNamara s Line referring to the Secretary s support for the system. Running from September 1966 through December 1972, Igloo White involved thousands of people in the design, development, deployment and employment of a system of systems and cost, conservatively, more than 2 billion. From November 1968 through April 1969, Igloo White directly supported the U.S. COMMANDO HUNT I interdiction effort in Laos. During this time all aspects of the program came together providing a clear view of system capabilities and limitations. From 1969 to 1972, as the saccto see that an interdiction program, supported by air assets alone, stood little real c

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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