Upon being advised of the Arc Light on Khe Sanh village, Lownds stormed into the FSCC room. I had never seen him so angry. “Harry,” he shouted. “I understand that you bombed the ville?” Captain Baig courteously replied, “Yes, Sir.” Lownds reminded him that he had forbidden it. Baig calmly explained the necessity of having to do it as the only way to spare the combat base from an enormous assault, and then stood stoically silent.
I will never forget the look on the colonel’s face. It was part anger at the insubordination, and part resignation to the fact that it was done, and there was nothing he could now do about it. He stared silently at Baig for several moments and then said, quite seriously: “Harry, I wouldn’t want to be you when the war crimes trials start.” The colonel then turned and left the room.
Gifted with a keen intellect, Captain Munir Baig’s classical education in England, exacting study of world military history, and specialized training in counterintelligence, all combined to give him an uncanny knack for “getting into the heads” of enemy unit commanders and anticipating what they were going to do next. He especially understood the mind of Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, architect of the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, now engaged in using similarly successful, though antiquated, tactics to take Khe Sanh. Baig’s broad understanding of the situation there created serious and unanticipated consequences for the 30,000 strong North Vietnamese assault force.