In a televised speech, President Richard Nixon claims the Allied drive into Cambodia is the “most successful operation of this long and difficult war,” and that he is now able to resume the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam.
U.S. and South Vietnamese forces had launched a limited “incursion” into Cambodia on April 29. The campaign included 13 major ground operations to clear North Vietnamese sanctuaries 20 miles inside Cambodia. Some 50,000 South Vietnamese soldiers and 30,000 U.S. troops were involved, making it the largest operation of the war since Operation Junction City in 1967. The announcement of the Cambodian operation gave the antiwar movement in the United States a new rallying point. News of the incursion set off a wave of antiwar demonstrations, including one at Kent State University that resulted in the killing of four students by Army National Guard troops and another at Jackson State in Mississippi, resulting in the shooting of two students when police opened fire on a women’s dormitory.
In his speech, Nixon reaffirmed earlier pledges to bring the Cambodian operation to an end by June 30, with “all our major military objectives” achieved and reported that 17,000 of the 31,000 U.S. troops in Cambodia had already returned to South Vietnam. After June 30, said Nixon, “all American air support” for Allied troops in fighting in Cambodia would end, with the only remaining American activity being attacks on enemy troop movements and supplies threatening U.S. forces in South Vietnam. Nixon promised that 50,000 of the 150,000 troops, whose withdrawal from Vietnam he had announced April 20, would “be out by October 15.”