Vietnam is approximately 331,688 square
kilometers in area. The topography consists of hills and densely forested mountains, with level land covering no more than
20 percent. Mountains account for 40 percent, hills 40 percent, and forests 75 percent.
The jungle terrain and the enemy's guerilla tactics in Vietnam soon turned war into
a frustrating stalemate. Because the Vietcong lacked the high-powered weaponry of the American forces, they used hit-and-run
and ambush tactics, as well as a keen knowledge of the jungle terrain to their advantage. Moving secretly in and out of the
general population, the Vietcong destroyed the notion of a frontline by attacking U.S. troops in both the cities and the countryside.
Because some of the enemy lived amidst the civilian population, it became increasingly difficult for U.S. troops to discern
friend from foe. In addition, the enemy laced the terrain with countless booby traps and land mines. American soldiers marching
through South Vietnam's jungles and rice paddies dealt not only witth sweltering heat and leeches but also with deadly traps.
Adding to the enemy's elusiveness was a network of elaborate tunnels that allowed the
Vietcong to launch surprise attacks on American soldiers and then dissapear quickly. The tunnels, which connected villages
throughout the countryside, became home to many guerilla fighters. Inside their underground world, the Vietcong ate and slept,
stored munitions, built land mines, and treated their wounded.