In the Khmer Republic, fierce battles have been going on between Government troops and Communist insurgents for control of essential rice-growing areas.
GV Armoured cars on road machine guns mounted on top
SCU Machine gunner firing
GV Armoured vehicles lining road and firing
GV Young soldier with machine gun shelters behind tree
CU Poster symbolising farmers and soldiers united against Communists
SV People in rice paddies transplant rice
GV & CU Women transplanting rice (2 shots)
CU Soldier on field telephone
SCU ZOOM OUT Troops on highway (2 shots)
SV PAN Refugees leaving on ox-carts
Initials BB/1632 BL/JB/BB/1649
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Background: In the Khmer Republic, fierce battles have been going on between Government troops and Communist insurgents for control of essential rice-growing areas.
One of the most important rice growing areas is along Highway Four, south west of the capital, Phnom Penh. The area is under Government control, and produces large harvests. It's particularly important to the Government because it is the only rice-growing area with a direct road link to Phnom Penh, so transporting the grain is cheap.
Harvesting has just begun and will continue until March next year. In the last month, the Highway has been cut daily by Khmer Rouge troops.
Government forces move in quickly to force the Communists off the Highway and beyond the roadside rice paddies. The Government troops operate on the assumption that the insurgents are at least in platoon strength, and force them out of dangerous shooting distance, using old Russian and American artillery.
Rice used to be the Khmer Republic's biggest export item. Of the 1,500,000 tons produced each year, some 200,000 tons were exported.
But after more than three years of war, the country now produces only about 80,000 tons, and has had to rely heavily on American guarantees of rice imports.
The Government of President Lon Nol, aware of the political importance of rice, has concentrated as much of its depleted army along the Highway as possible.