Hell on Highway 19:

The Destruction of Groupement Mobile 100

By Arnold Blumberg

The Paris government’s strategy of creating a military situation that would allow for an end to the war in Indochina without a takeover of the country by the communists evaporated with the fall of the Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. With the loss of that bastion, over 11,000 elite French soldiers were taken captive, with another 5,000 dead or wounded. The disaster at Dien Bien Phu, together with the losses in men and treasure over the previous eight years, meant the French were finished in Southeast Asia and would be pulling out as quickly as possible.

Hoping to capitalize on their stunning success and gain as many concessions as possible from Paris, the communist Viet Minh ordered their forces to continue to engage the French military in order to inflict the maximum amount of casualties on them. That tactic of “fighting while negotiating” would keep the pressure on at the settlement talks being held in Geneva.

At the operational level, the fall of Dien Bien Phu brought on the withdrawal of all French forces from the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Among the units ordered to hurriedly evacuate from there was Groupement Mobile 100 (GM100 or Mobile Group 100), It was a mix of motorized infantry and artillery contingents that had been combating the Viet Minh near the town of An Khê for the past nine months.

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On to Baghdad

Mesopotamia & Persia, 1914–18

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  • On to Baghdad: Mesopotamia & Persia, 1914–18: Their defeats in the Libyan and Balkan Wars of 1911–13 led the Turks to look east. Given the strength of the European powers in the west, it seemed their only route to reestablishing regional dominance.
  • Hell on Highway 19: The Destruction of Groupement Mobile 100: The annihilation of an elite French motorized combat unit by the Viet Minh during the First Indo-China War proved to be a terrible harbinger of what the United States might encounter in its war in Vietnam 10 years later.
  • The Fall of the Portuguese Empire in India: The Portuguese created the first global empire in history, beginning with their seizure of Ceuta on the African side of the Straits of Gibraltar in 1415. At its peak, their empire stretched from Brazil through Central Africa, onto the Indian subcontinent at Goa, and the South Pacific and East Asia at Macao. This is how the portion of it on the Indian subcontinent came to its end.
  • Phormio: Ancient Greece’s Greatest Admiral: Though not as well known as several other Athenian war leaders with whom he was a compatriot, Phormio must be ranked among the greatest admirals of the Classical Era. This article explains why that is true.

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