With this favorable report, the four aircraft were moved up to NKP and began sustained combat operations over the heart of the HCMT as part of COMANDO HUNT VII, the current iteration of the multi-year interdiction campaign.
It was none too soon because intelligence sources indicated that North Vietnam was moving massive forces and supplies south along the HCMT to mount a multi-pronged invasion of South Vietnam in the very near future.
Soon, the PAVE NAILs were flying both day and night missions over the increasingly dangerous HCMT.
The HCMT area had been divided into nine different assigned sectors, with two sectors, four and five, further subdivided into A and B sub-sectors because of enemy activity.
Below, all along the HCMT, the North Vietnamese forces were constantly active as they steadily moved their supplies south for the planned offensive.
All fifteen PAVE NAILs were now regularly being fragged against the HCMT, and the crews were being stretched to their limits.
As 1972 started, commanders at Seventh Air Force were now deeply concerned about the expansive growth of enemy defenses along the HCMT.
Just two nights later, another Spectre gunship working over the HCMT was shot out of the sky, this time by AAA fire.
air power shifted to respond to the enemy offensive, and then ultimately to operations again over North Vietnam, the air campaign against the HCMT was reduced.
One night, there was not much going on along the HCMT, so one of the crews went looking for trucks near Mu Gia pass.
A few days later, all 23d TASS aircraft and personnel were returned to NKP, and stepped up operations over the HCMT were resumed.
They also flew long range interdiction against extensions of the HCMT which extended into northeastern Cambodia.