Always keeping tabs, I'm just good at lurking I suppose
Hmm, great question!
Honestly, my best bet would still be a plan roughly along the same lines as Lam Son 719, except US-led. Assuming it were to be a serious cut to the trail and not just a raid - there just aren't any other sustainable land routes that would be as short and close to the trail's sources and hubs. Tchepone is the only main objective I can picture for such an operation, at least in the first phase. I also would rule out main US forces deploying via Thailand or royal-controlled parts of Laos, although I could imagine, say, a secondary thrust by say, an airborne brigade deploying to a friendly base somewhere in the Savannakhet area (the airbase at Xeno/Seno is a good candidate) and making a thrust towards Tchepone down the road from Muang Phine while the main force is going up the road from Vietnam. But for political reasons, I think more or less all the logistics for this operation would have to run via South Vietnam, rather than creating a new line via Thailand.
In terms of dates and forces - I would propose either November 1966 or November 1968. In 1965, attention was already elsewhere; by 1967, there was quite a massing of NVA already coming up on Khe Sanh and I don't think attacking through that would be a good idea. After that - unless you also redact Vietnamization policy from history, you just wouldn't have the required number of troops. And well, November typically being when the weather usually clears up. Indeed, since the article presents such a scenario as an alternative to the start of Commando Hunt - you could use the historical start date of Commando Hunt, Nov 15th 1968, as D-day.
For a 1966 scenario, I would have the main force going from the Khe Sanh area towards Tchepone be USMC; for a 1968 scenario, I would use 1st Cav (which would've been kept in the area for the operation, instead of historically being redeployed back to Saigon in the fall of '68 and then back home), supported by an armored division (plus perhaps a USMC brigade?) and elements of 101st Airborne as the main attacking force. In both variants, I'd also toss a sizeable detachment of airborne (perhaps also elements of the 101st) into Laos, deploying from Xeno airbase. I could also definitely see the ARVN deploying sizeable forces, and at least some of the better RLA units joining (Xeno, as I recall, was a base for one of the more capable Lao GMs; and any Laotian certification almost inevitably brings in Thai "volunteers"/mercenaries and their artillery, on whom Lao forces were always heavily reliant) - so it'd be a bit of an international mix.
How does that sound?
[edit: terrible illustration attached!]
< Message edited by CCIP-subsim -- 11/5/2019 10:02:51 PM >