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Vietnam 1965-1975» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Doves in Charge - 1967 rss

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Curt Chambers

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This is the next in series of the Doves in Charge AAR. Progress in the game has slowed considerably since the last update. But I’m hopeful we can pick up the pace to keep things moving along.

Year start vital stats:

U.S. Morale - 510
Commitment - 148
SVN Morale - 83
SVN Draft level - 74
Controlled Population - 246
NVA Morale - 116
Commitment - ?
VC Draft Level - ?
Controlled Population - 114

SPRING

Interphase

Things are settling down again in the political arena. Population went up another 4 points and the government was stable. My effectiveness rolls continued to tank, however. Rolled a 5 so the U.S. would be on their own again.

The Doves were finally convinced that the current situation, favorable as it may appear on paper, was untenable without more comittment. So an increase of 25 CPs was authorized. We brought in the U.S. 9th Infantry, all the remaining artillery, and a few support points. The New Jersey returned to port. We didn’t feel we were getting a good bang for the buck with it. All it did was bombard the NVA. For the same cost I could put 2 heavy artillery units in Hue (which would provide defensive support in between bombardments).

The VC recruited an additional 42 units and the NVA brought in another HQ and regiment near the DMZ. Of the VC units, 2 HQs and 7 regiments was later identified. The NLF is now recruiting at a rate of 30 CPs per season.

Operations

Several heavy artillery battalions that shipped to Hue helped stabilize the northern front. But the NVA then started bombarding and pretty much wiped out the ARVN replacement pool again. It’s amazing how many casualties the ARVN takes having so few effective units!

The NVA in Kontum attacked Pleiku instead of invading Binh Dinh. A loud sigh of relief was heard in the Allied headquarters in Saigon. Kontum had already been written off. But Binh Dinh would have been a tough fight.

The generals weren’t so happy about what occurred further south, however. A new VC division was recruited near Dak Song. This was later identified as the 9th VC division. As you'll recall, they were destroyed in Khanh Hoa last summer. But now they were back and poised to invade Tuyen Duc. The U.S. 9th Infantry arrived in Khanh Hoa this season but was in no position to help out. Gia Nghia fell after just 1 round of combat. I really hated losing that capital since the population of Tuyen Duc had started turning pro-government. The U.S. 9th was never quite able to engage the VC. The NLF went on a rampage during the 2nd turn, trying to destroy as many U.S. replacements as possible. Their plan worked well enough that I decided not to tackle this force until next season, when we’ve had a chance to reload.



Down in IV Corps the group of VC that had been hanging out in the northwest corner of the delta started moving inland. I had planned a series of light operations (Bump & Shove with support) to push everyone back into Kien Giang. However, on the very first operation I stumbled into a VC regiment. It could have alerted away but chose to fight. The enemy then started piling battalions into the target hex through reaction moves. Once we recovered our balance, the VC were pushed back against the coast. Here is a shot of the battle at its bloody climax.



I was able to call in reserves, block further retreat, and eliminate the regiment and 3 additional battalions. One unit got away. We took casualties, for sure. But nothing compared to the resources that would have been required to hunt down all those units seperately. More importantly, the threat to the provinces in the western delta was significantly reduced. And fewer resources would be required next turn to keep an eye on this force.

The rest of the season was a series of NLF operations designed to bleed replacements. In I Corps they drove to the gates of Hue. Elsewhere they sniped at whatever they could. Basically an Offensive without the attack bonus. 2nd turn ops for the good guys was extremely limited. Still, I managed to rack up an impressive body count this season (50), helped in no small part by the discovery of several supply conduits.

U.S. morale will go up next season due to the number of enemy KIAs. It will be the same as it was in Winter 1965. The U.S. public is happy with the way the war is being conducted.

Given high U.S. morale and an aggressive and powerful NLF, the decision was made to abandon our original build plan and go for something more appropriate to the battlefield situation. The Doves were still in charge, but they have shown themselves willing to listen to reason.

SUMMER


Interphase

SVN picked up another +5 population, bringing the total to 255. We are more than pleased with that number. And we’re going to need every point of that population. The ARVN have taken over 100 casualties to-date. This is pretty high considering they are only 50% mobilized and perpetually ineffective. For that matter U.S. casualties have been high also, 62. This is the NLF strategy playing out. The focus on regiments and divisions, and attacking with them during non-Offensive seasons, has caused us enormous casualties and forced us to accelerate our buildup. But the same tactic that has brought so much success to the NLF on the battlefield is hurting them in the pacification struggle. 3 VC battalions cost less than 1 regiment, yet cover 3x the territory. The NVA has an impressive army but they are all concentrated in a small area. The NLF just aren’t getting enough pacification roll mods. And the ones they do get come at a high cost. That is what is driving these skewed numbers (high SVN population + high Allied casualties). Anyway, my 2 cents.

Nothing too horrible happened in the Morale phase. Both U.S. and SVN morale went up. Leader loyalty ticked down. And the government was stable. Another 5 for effectiveness. I don’t think I’ve rolled less than 4 since 1965.

In accordance with the decision made at the end of last season, comittment was increased by 25 CPs. We brought in the 25th division, restocked the repl pools, and sent 84 supplies to SVN. With that they purchased 6 heavy artillery units to enhance the defense of Thua Thien.

The NLF recruited 52 CPs worth of forces (42 VC units, 51 NVA repl, 4 NVA regs augmented, Offensive declared). The NLF now had on the map: 5 NVA divisions, 4 ind regs, 8 NVA artillery, 3 full VC divisions, an unknown number of independent VC regs, and the entire VC battalion countermix (I know this because later on he didn’t have enough to break down a regiment for losses. He had to borrow units from the dead pile).

Operations

With all that force coming at me I expected it to be a bloody season. But I didn’t expect to be hit so hard in the first attack. The NLF launched a massive assault on Hue. Both attacker and defender were in the 100+ column. The battle went several rounds. Odds varied from 1:2 to 1:1. In the end we were victorious. The NVA lost 4 mechanized regiments and 79 combined VC/NVA replacements. I lost 2 ARVN regiments and 4 battalions, 9 US repl, and 26 ARVN repl.



That battle altered my plans for the entire season. My first instinct was to get in a round of bombardments and then pull back to Phu Lac (abandoning Hue in the process). If I stuck it out for the second turn in my current position the U.S. would run out of replacements and it would be open season on U.S. units all over the map.

But it was the NLF that got drained first. My bombardments took all the VC, and all but 2 of the remaining NVA replacements. In addition, it eliminated 5 regiments (3 VC and 2 NVA), 1 HQ, and 2 artillery. I saw an opportunity for a 2nd turn counterattack.

The plan was to fire up the 5th mechanized in Hue, add a bunch of artillery, and roll a security op into the adjacent hex which was now defended by a single regiment and 4 artillery. If I interdicted the hex the artillery could not escape. In theory the regiment could escape but it would probably be taken for losses. With the elimination of that artillery the NLF would still be able to bomb away about 7 repl via bombardments. That would leave me low, but not empty. I would be able to absorb any remaining suicide attacks and possibly even undertake limited offensive action. So Operation “Big Roller” was given a green light..



The first round took out the NVA regiment. Since they had no more ground units in the hex I took the Korean unit to satisfy our 4 casualties. The second round finished off the defenders. I was tempted to keep advancing into Quang Tri. I didn’t know what he had in Phong Dien or Quang Tri city but I was sure this battle group could have handled it. But we only had 5 MPs left for the stack and they wouldn’t have been able to get back behind friendly lines. Since this op was being conducted in the Allied Strategic Movment Phase I still didn’t know what the NLF was planning for the turn. So we cut it short. The group was congratulated for its victory and called back to Da Nang (out of bombardment range).

Next was Operation “Little Roller”. It was designed to deal with the 9th VC division which had deployed along a road in Phuoc Long (see notes from previous season regarding the VC 9th). We assembled a large mechanized force in Dak Song. As with Big Roller up north, the idea was to come in with such overwhelming strength to make sure each battle only goes 1 round and our losses are as small as possible. This securty op had 4 intended target hexes, however, whereas Big Roller only had 1.



From the start it didn’t go as well. I knew the VC division was there, but I didn’t know which hex(es) they occupied. So I had to come in with 20+ ground strength on each attack. U.S. casualties quickly mounted. When I got to the big stack (which I knew by then contained the HQ) I wanted to interdict to trap it. But doing so would have prevented my force from disengaging at the end of the operation. So I didn’t interdict, rolled poorly, and the HQ and a regiment were able to retreat to Phuoc Binh. They were still on a road but I would not be able to reach them. We took out the last VC regiment and called the operation, returning the units to their individual base of operations. Although not as successful as Big Roller in terms of casualties sustained vs inflicted, this op still netted 2 VC regiments and 4 battalions.

We ended up finishing off the VC 9th division with a follow up attack during the operations phase. The NLF was fairly restrained for the rest of the turn. They conducted a few bombardments but mostly settled for occupying terrain in some swing provinces. Thua Thien, Quang Nam, Phu Yen, and Ba Xuyen all had sizable enemy contingents at the end of the season. But at 255, the population was pro-government enough overall that I wasn’t worried about the effect those units would have. So I let them be.

Thus ended the NLF’s first offensive. They scored 40 attacks. Losses on both sides were heavy. See below.



FALL

Interphase

Population ticked up 1 point. Government was loyal and leader loyalty did not change. Overall a pretty decent morale phase. U.S. morale dropped 11 points due to the Offensive. It is now at 500. SVN morale went up 9 points, however, due mostly to the large influx of comittment last season.

For comittment, the field commanders wanted another 25 points. The Doves in Charge wanted 4. We compromised at 15. Some units of the 23rd division, operating in IV Corps, were rotated out so the 1st Marine was brought in down there to help clean it up. The remaining comittment was spent, as it is most of the time, on replacements. At the end of the interphase I rolled a 3 for effectiveness. So for the first time in the war I would have effective ARVN artillery to work with. But as it turned out it wouldn't matter. See below.

It was an R&R turn for the NLF. They purchased some replacements and improved the Trail, but did not purchase any new units as far as I could tell. In fact, based on the new unit count it looks like they withdrew some.

Operations

We ran an ARVN/FWA security against some HQs which were stuck on the road from last season. Eliminated 2 out of 3. A VC HQ got away. Most of the VC left in country made a beeline for the border. The few stragglers I managed to pick off turned out to be politicals. I spent the 2nd game turn reorganizing everyone.

Very short season.

WINTER

Interphase

Picked up another +5 population points, bringing the total to 261. I now consider an NLF population victory extremely unlikely. Accordingly, we can be a little more liberal with the Free Fire from now on. The politics phase was quiet, which is a good thing I guess. No coup. Leadership and loyalty remained stable.

Despite coming off a quiet season, I felt the proverbial dam was about to burst again so we brought in the last U.S. division, the 82nd, and mobilized 2 more ARVN divisions. The ARVN is a little over 50% mobilized now. Most of the regiments have been built, leaving the HQs and artillery still in the force pool. No divisional units have been augmented yet. I’m waiting for the overall leadership situation to settle down before I sink any serious resources into the ARVN.

It was a light recruitment phase for the NLF also. Only 13 new VC units appeared on the map. The NVA did rebuild all 8 of their artillery, however. But no regiments, just some VC screeners. Looks like they were preparing for a cross-border artillery duel. I had no desire to take part in that, so we stayed clear of the DMZ. Quang Tri would remain NLF controlled for the forseeable future.

Operations

This was the shortest season I can remember in any of my games. A few minor strat moves for both sides. No S&D ops. Both games turns were completed in about 30 minutes. Except for a few VC in the parrots beak, the season ended with the enemy concentrated between the latitudes of Da Nang and Qui Nhonh.



Year End Stats:

U.S. Morale - 500
Commitment - 228
SVN Morale - 95
SVN Draft level - 108
Controlled Population - 261
NVA Morale - 230
Commitment - ?
VC Draft Level - ?
Controlled Population - 99

Summary for 1967

I would declare the “opening phase” of the war to be over now. Things came to a climax in Summer when the NLF launched their Offensive. Our defenses were stretched to the max. But they held, and population continued to rise.

If I end up winning this match, I will look back on the battle for Hue as the turning point. The cream of the NVA was destroyed. Everything just became a little easier after that.


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Tankboy
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Haslet
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Wish I had the time to devote in learning this game. The mechanics and resulting narrative really are amazing. One dayblush
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Kevin Canada
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Birmingham
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It's actually not that hard to learn - strategy is a bit more of an uphill, esp. in the campaign game, but overall it's a fairly straightforward system, IMO.
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Fred Buchholz
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Middleton
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Agree learning the mechanics of an S&d Can be done over a weekend playing some of the early Scenarios. Figuring out the campaign game - well I don't think any of us will admit to having the "winning" strategy, it all depends on what the other side is or isn't doing to your plans.

TO OP Great summary I am surprised the SVN morale is still below 100, but haven't followed closely, was there a bad season in there (besides the offensive) or something I missed
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Patrick Mullen
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No Strategic Bombing or Economic Aid, Fred. Curt has been very frugal with commitment and US Morale Expenditures.

Great AAR, Curt! No really much for me to add other than the succession of "1"'s rolled in Hue sealed the NVA fate and the offensive's failure as well. IIRC, if I had rolled a 2 or higher in the first few rounds, we would have gotten some positive pursuit going when it still mattered. As it was, after the attack up there on Turn 1, the NVA was a hollow shell.
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Petri P
Finland
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Looks to me like the NLF made a grave mistake here in losing enough battalion equivalents to give US bonus morale before the Offensive - an Offensive would have prevented the morale gain, so an Offensive is the only time the NLF should allow large casualties.

I noticed from the text that there were augmented NVA regiments, which is good. However, the screen shots show multiple NVA infantry regiments. Why? There is absolutely no reason to field significant numbers of NVA infantry. It is just bad policy, losing in the cost/efficiency game.

A mechanized regiment costs less than twice, but bombards twice as well, and can actually attack and have kind of reasonable chances to start the upward spiral of destruction, unlike an infantry regiment.
 
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Patrick Mullen
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Well, Petri-timing. It is not solitaire. Playing a human is different than playing yourself. Sometimes for instance, you want to surprise someone without the offensive.

Regarding the Augmented vs. Infantry Regiments, that had more to do with Artillery support from HQs, as well as the need to build many things at once. Once again, playing another human adds additional friction. you cannot simply build the force you want and attack with it. The other player has a vote.
 
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Petri P
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True, but here you had the choice. You chose to have prolonged combat when not under the protective umbrella of an offensive.

Sometime when you have time, set up an inferior, small, solitaire experiment.

I admit of course that solitaire is not the same as real play - it is 25+ years since I played this ftf, not understanding the math then, and I did those full solitaire runs 20 years later just to get some idea about what drives this game much, much, later - because it disturbed me that I did not understand it then.

Do an NVA vs NVA civil war. Same commitment used. Both sides attack when possible. One side purchases packets of HQ+2 mechanized (+ repl), the other side purchases packets of HQ + 3 infantry (+ repl). The first side should absolutely crush the second side, if you try this. Because the first side has superior artillery vs. cost (which drives casualties) and superior pursuit modifier (which drives casualties in attack).

HQ + 3 infantry regiments is "more efficient in artillery" than HQ + 2 mechanized if the infantry regiments actually attack separately (2+6) * 3 - but the attacks are weak because they lack the pursuit. If the infantry division bombards, it is weaker then the alternative. (2 bombardments only).

HQ + 2 mechanized gets two good attacks with artillery at (4+6) * 2, or three bombardments.

The price difference (10 vs 11) is not enough to offset the advantage.
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Patrick Mullen
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Petri, once again, I agree on Augmented. However, given the costs of resisting pacification with the VC and the need to achieve mass with the NVA, what I wanted, and what I can afford are two seperate things.

Agree on the choice regarding offensives. Bear in mind, the US didn't exceed 150 until Spring 1967. The US player also would not have exceeded it without the casualties inflicted on him, until 1968. I could have launched the offensive in the Spring. I also would not have been ready (see 1st paragraph above). As it is, I am not pessimistic.
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Curt Chambers

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Dren608 wrote:
...I am surprised the SVN morale is still below 100, but haven't followed closely, was there a bad season in there (besides the offensive) or something I missed


Pat pretty much nailed it. No economic aid and small committment increases resulted in a less than robust SVN morale growth. Frankly, I'm surprised it is as high as it is. I can thank the rapid population growth for that. My goal was to keep SVN morale high enough to prevent bad things from happening. The problem is that SVN morale tends to start dropping off in the end-game and I don't have much of a buffer there.
 
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Curt Chambers

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Interesting discussion between Pat and Petri. I can see both sides. I will say that when the Allied player is being a miser with comittment, I think the NLF player has to do something to draw him out. You can't let him get away with not sending anything into the country. Pat accomplished that. Basically trading a U.S. morale bonus for forcing higher comittment.

But there are different ways to wake up the U.S. We'll see how it plays out.

 
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Petri P
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Navaronegun wrote:
As it is, I am not pessimistic.


Yes, you have done an admirable job in forcing him to increase commitment, and you have caused spectacular ARVN casualties. A job well done. I was too harsh in my previous reply here, sorry about that.

If you could "restore a save point" and attempt again, do you think there would be a suitable time to withdraw most of the NVA at some moment, to get fat coffers for sustained VC effort in the following seasons?

NVA just cannot survive on the map when there are well supported US divisions present - if (or when) heavy NVA is needed to force the 150 commitment, could (some large part of) it be saved? (Edit: Saved as available commitment, not saved as units.)
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Patrick Mullen
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petrip wrote:
If you could "restore a save point" and attempt again, do you think there would be a suitable time to withdraw most of the NVA at some moment, to get fat coffers for sustained VC effort in the following seasons?

NVA just cannot survive on the map when there are well supported US divisions present - if (or when) heavy NVA is needed to force the 150 commitment, could (some large part of) it be saved? (Edit: Saved as available commitment, not saved as units.)


Well, that was largely what happened. The NVA lost some units; the 4 Augmented Regiments, 2 Foot Regiments, most Artillery and the HQs. The other on map NVA regiments were withdrawn during the next recruitment phase (after running to Laos). But that was all that could be saved after the Hue Attack failed.

The Hue attack was a gamble. The NVA Army in the North was pulling a large US force away from other areas and inflicting casualties with selected attacks and bombardments. But to launch a successful offensive, which I wanted to do as early as possible, would have been very limited without that same NVA Force's participation. So I took the gamble. As I said earlier, it was worth a shot. If I had rolled higher than a 1 on the first two rounds of combat, I would have been in Hue with a positive pursuit modifier (IIRC, 4 Augmented Regiments in Hue with a VC Regiment, and enough adjacent arty to get a one to one with both parties inflicting casualties on the 100+ table). The Attack itself spent all the NVA Army's offensive capability that turn. I decided to do the assault on Hue first, as if it failed, it would give me the maximum chance to mitigate the consequences of failure.

But it was a gamble. Once the attack was doomed after two or three rounds, it became a matter of preserving what I had to withdraw it and spend another day.
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Petri P
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Getting your side of the story, seems like you did about as well as possible there.

Hue is a strange place - a star like Saigon, as if it were important. Actually important in scenarios, 10 VP, and the scenario VPs normally kind of correspond to campaign morale/commitment costs.

It kind of feels like Hue should be worth of much more than it is in the campaign.
 
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Patrick Mullen
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petrip wrote:
Getting your side of the story, seems like you did about as well as possible there.

Hue is a strange place - a star like Saigon, as if it were important. Actually important in scenarios, 10 VP, and the scenario VPs normally kind of correspond to campaign morale/commitment costs.

It kind of feels like Hue should be worth of much more than it is in the campaign.


Possibly. The offensive was never meant to be a suicide offensive. The northern part of the offensive was meant to: inflict US casualties, impact pacification (by getting a bunch of NLF units in Hue and sway Thua Thien toward the NLF), and get some attacks. If Hue had succeeded, I would have tried to do many small attacks country wide. When Hue failed on Turn 1, I still did that, but only little suicides with Battalions in other parts of the country as well as the VC Division in Tuyen Duc. In an alternate universe, where Hue succeeded, the Northern Force would have been viable, with replacements available for a second round of attacks; multiple smaller ones. Instead of 40 attacks we would have been in the 60-75 range. C'est La Guerre.
 
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patrick Le Bloa
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Navaronegun wrote:
Petri, once again, I agree on Augmented. However, given the costs of resisting pacification with the VC and the need to achieve mass with the NVA, what I wanted, and what I can afford are two seperate things.

Agree on the choice regarding offensives. Bear in mind, the US didn't exceed 150 until Spring 1967. The US player also would not have exceeded it without the casualties inflicted on him, until 1968. I could have launched the offensive in the Spring. I also would not have been ready (see 1st paragraph above). As it is, I am not pessimistic.


Important point is there i think.
the US didn't exceed 150 until Spring 1967
Congrat about that , specially with a great population up.
 
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Patrick Mullen
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An ifern wrote:
Navaronegun wrote:
Petri, once again, I agree on Augmented. However, given the costs of resisting pacification with the VC and the need to achieve mass with the NVA, what I wanted, and what I can afford are two seperate things.

Agree on the choice regarding offensives. Bear in mind, the US didn't exceed 150 until Spring 1967. The US player also would not have exceeded it without the casualties inflicted on him, until 1968. I could have launched the offensive in the Spring. I also would not have been ready (see 1st paragraph above). As it is, I am not pessimistic.


Important point is there i think.
the US didn't exceed 150 until Spring 1967
Congrat about that , specially with a great population up.


It only gets better for him in 1968, population-wise.
 
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