In 1959, Ho Chi Minh began supplying arms to the Vietcong via a network of
paths along the border of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Ho Chi Minh Trail,
also called Truong Son Trail, was an elaborate system of mountain and jungle trails linking North Vietnam, South Vietnam,
Cambodia, and Laos during the war against the United States. The initial small trail developed into an elaborate trail system
including paths for troops and vehicles, with a total length of nearly 20,000 km along the Truong Son Mountains.
The United States could not block the Ho Chi Minh trail with ground forces, because the countries it passed
through were officially neutral. Extensive aerial bombing did not prevent the North Vietnamese from moving hundreds of tons
per day of war supplies down the Ho Chi Minh trail to the south.
On November 11, 1968, Operation Commando Hunt was initiated by the U.S. and its allies. The goal of the operation
was to interdict men and supplies on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, through Laos into South Vietnam. By the end of the operation,
3 million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos, which slowed but did not consistently disrupt trail operations.