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Easter Offensive information


Easter Offensive
Part of the Vietnam War

North Vietnamese Type 59 tank captured by South Vietnamese 20th Tank Regiment south of Đông Hà
Date30 March – 22 October 1972
Location
South Vietnam
Result Both sides claim victory
PAVN takes control of 10% of South Vietnamese territory[1]
Belligerents
Easter Offensive South Vietnam
Supported by:
Easter Offensive United States
Easter Offensive North Vietnam
Easter Offensive Viet Cong
Commanders and leaders
South Vietnam
I Corps:
Hoàng Xuân Lãm (replaced by Ngô Quang Trưởng)
II Corps:
Ngô Du (replaced by Nguyễn Văn Toàn)
III Corps:
Nguyễn Văn Minh
United States Creighton Abrams
Tri-Thien-Hue Region:
Lê Trọng Tấn
B-2 Front:
Trần Văn Trà
B-3 Front:
Hoàng Minh Thảo
Strength
Total ARVN: 758,000[2]
550 tanks and 900 APCs[3]
~1,500 aircraft and helicopters
U.S. forces:
US Air Force
US 7th Fleet
300,000 [4]
322 tanks and APCs[5]
Casualties and losses
U.S claim: ~10,000 killed, 33,000 wounded,[6] 3,500 missing[7]
ARVN report: ~34,000 killed (excluding U.S. casualties)[8]
PAVN claim: 213,307 killed and wounded, 13,000 captured
More than 1,000 tanks and APCs destroyed[9]

U.S estimate: 100,000+ killed [10]
250[11]–700[12] tanks and APCs destroyed

PAVN estimate: 100,000+ casualties (~40,000 killed)[13][14]
Civilians: 25,000+ killed and 1 million refugees[15]

The Easter Offensive, also known as the 1972 spring–summer offensive (Vietnamese: Chiến dịch Xuân–Hè 1972) by North Vietnam, or the Red Fiery Summer (Mùa hè đỏ lửa) as romanticized in South Vietnamese literature, was a military campaign conducted by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN, the regular army of North Vietnam) against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN, the regular army of South Vietnam) and the United States military between 30 March and 22 October 1972, during the Vietnam War.[Note 1]

This conventional invasion (the largest invasion since 300,000 Chinese troops had crossed the Yalu River into North Korea during the Korean War) was a radical departure from previous North Vietnamese offensives. The offensive was designed to achieve a decisive victory, which even if it did not lead to the collapse of South Vietnam, would greatly improve the North's negotiating position at the Paris Peace Accords.

The U.S. high command had been expecting an attack in 1972 but the size and ferocity of the assault caught the defenders off balance, because the attackers struck on three fronts simultaneously, with the bulk of the North Vietnamese army. This first attempt by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) to invade the south since the Tet Offensive of 1968, became characterized by conventional infantry–armor assaults backed by heavy artillery, with both sides fielding the latest in technological advances in weapons systems.

In the I Corps Tactical Zone, North Vietnamese forces overran South Vietnamese defensive positions in a month-long battle and captured Quảng Trị city, before moving south in an attempt to seize Huế. The PAVN similarly eliminated frontier defense forces in the II Corps Tactical Zone and advanced towards the provincial capital of Kon Tum, threatening to open a way to the sea, which would have split South Vietnam in two. Northeast of Saigon, in the III Corps Tactical Zone, PAVN forces overran Lộc Ninh and advanced to assault the capital of Bình Long Province at An Lộc.

The campaign can be divided into three phases: April was a month of PAVN advances; May became a period of equilibrium; in June and July the South Vietnamese forces counter-attacked, culminating in the recapture of Quảng Trị City in September. On all three fronts, initial North Vietnamese successes were hampered by high casualties, inept tactics and the increasing application of U.S. and South Vietnamese air power. One result of the offensive was the launching of Operation Linebacker, the first sustained bombing of North Vietnam by the U.S. since November 1968. Although South Vietnamese forces withstood their greatest trial thus far in the conflict, as well as thwarting North Vietnam's goal of large territorial gains, the North Vietnamese accomplished two important goals: they had gained valuable territory within South Vietnam from which to launch future offensives and they had obtained a better bargaining position at the peace negotiations being conducted in Paris.

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference graham was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Brigadier General James Lawton Collins Jr. (1975). The Development and Training of the South Viet Namese Army. Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army. p. 151. Army: 410,000 Air Force: 50,000 Marines: 14,000 Regional Forces: 284,000 Total: 758,000.
  3. ^ Correll, John T. (2017). "If the Vietnamese Took Over the War, the Americans Could Go Home". Air Force Magazine. Arlington, Virginia: Air Force Association.
  4. ^ Karnow, p. 640.
  5. ^ Vietnam Department of Defense website. (in Vietnamese)
  6. ^ Leepson and Hannaford, p. 115.
  7. ^ Sorley 1999, p. 339.
  8. ^ Clarke, Jeffrey J. (1988). United States Army in Vietnam: Advice and Support: The Final Years, 1965–1973. Washington, D.C: Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 275 (Table 14—Comparative Military Casualty Figures). Note: The ARVN suffered 254,256 recorded combat deaths between 1960 and 1974, with the highest number of recorded deaths being in 1972, with 39,587 combat deaths.
  9. ^ Bách khoa tri thức quốc phòng toàn dân. NXB Chính trị quốc gia. Hà Nội.2003. các trang 280–284 và 1734–1745.
  10. ^ Andrade 1995, p. 531.
  11. ^ Andrade 1995, p. 536.
  12. ^ web site (1997). "North Vietnamese Army's 1972 Eastertide Offensive". web site. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  13. ^ web site (1997). "North Vietnamese Army's 1972 Eastertide Offensive". web site. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  14. ^ Sorley, Lewis (1999), Courage and Blood: South Vietnam's Repulse of the 1972 Easter Invasion, United States Army War College
  15. ^ Andrade 1995, p. 529.


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