Second North Vietnamese Invasion of South Vietnam: Easter Offensive (March-October 1972)

Figure 1.--The Battle of An Lộc Proved to be a key battle in the North Voetnamese Easter Offernsive--their second iunvasion of South Vietnam. The North Viernamese seige of the town lasted for 66 days during which outnumbered and lightly armed ARVN troops held out against PAVN artillery and heavy Soviet tanks. It prevented the PAVN from moving closer to Saigon. The wire service caption read, "Ready for the enenmy: Two Southvietnamese children, armed with carbines, pose outside [their] bunker in which they have lived during two-month siege at An Loc, 60 miles north of Saigon. They are members of the local militia." The photograph was talen June 14, 1972.

The North Vietnamese Easter (Nguyễn Huệ /Chiến dịch Xuân hè) Offensive was a military campaign conducted primarily by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) with some Viet Cong support against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), local militias, and the United States military forces. It was fought from March 30-October 22, 1972. It was the largest military campaign fought since the Korean War when since 0.3 million Chinese 'volunteers' stormed across the Yalu River into North Korea (1950). It was also the longest military campaign of the War, It was a major change in PAVN tactics. As the United States was withdrawning forces from Vietnam, the PAVN was beginning to turn the war into a more convengtionasl conflict. The North Vietnamese unlike the Chinese in 1950 did not plan a campaign to win the War. They knew that this was not posdible as long as the United states had substantial forces deployed. Rather they attacked an area largely held by ARVN forces with the goal of destroyoing ARVN divisions and seizing territory to improve their bargaining position at the Paris Peace Conference. American commanders had been anticipating a North Vietnamese offensive for this expressed reason. They had not, however, anticipated the size and scope of thr PAVN offensive. It was the First North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam since the Tel Offendive (1968). The North Vietnamese attacked simulataneously with almost all of the PAVN on three different fronts. The popular image is that the Vietnam War was the well-armed Americans fighting lightly armed Viet Cong peasant guerillas. Nothing could be different from the Eastern Offensive. The PAVN commited its divisions with modern arms, including Soviet battle tanks, to the fight. Soviet weaponry excdept when electronics was involved, was every bit as good as American-made arms and in some cases better. Many PAVN divisions were better armed than ARVN divisions. The North Vietnamese were surprised at the extent to which the ARVN units stood and fought. Commiting their divisiins to convention battles exposed them to American airpower resulting in heavy casualties. The North Vietnamese, however, accomplished theur goals. They gained territiry bin South Vietnam which could be used for future attacks as the American withdrew. They also improved their bargaing position at the Paris Peacec Talks.


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Created: 3:44 AM 10/5/2011
Last updated: 3:44 AM 10/5/2011