Airpower and the 1972 Easter Offensive
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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In the spring of 1972, North Vietnam launched a massive, three-pronged attack into South Vietnam that was eventually repulsed by South Vietnamese forces, United States advisors, and massive amounts of American airpower. This thesis investigates the factors that were key to South Vietnams successful defense, specifically, the role of U.S. airpower in defeating North Vietnams attack. The paper first examines the strategic and operational environment surrounding the 1972 offensive, including the roles and influence that the leaders of the United States, Saigon, Hanoi, China, and the Soviet Union had on the conflict. It then describes the three primary tactical battles in detail, from the initial communist successes to their ultimate defeat. The discussion of U.S. airpowers role includes the massive strategic deployment that doubled the available assets in theater in just over one month, air powers operational success in striking targets in North Vietnam, and its tactical successes on the various battlefields of South Vietnam. The author concludes that U.S. airpower, with U.S. advisors playing a critical enabling role, was the decisive element in the defeat of North Vietnams Easter Offensive.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics