THE BATLE OF AN LOC
The Battle of An Loc Vietnam also regarded as the Easter offensive as it started the Thursday before Easter weekend and lasted 96 days. It preceded the TET offensive of 1968 and may have been one of the most prolific battles of the era. The Battle of An Loc showed the will and fortitude of the enemy as well as tested the perseverance of the defending forces of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Along with all this it showed a more modern form of battle using ground as well as air power, and set the stage for the superiority of the air power used today.1
In 1968 after the TET Offensive the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) along with their counterparts the Viet Cong (VC) were pushed back to the Cambodian border. Through political interventions the forces of South Vietnam including the United States counterparts were ordered not to advance into Cambodia to follow the NVA/VC. In the time between 1968 and 1972 the United States withdrew their forces from Vietnam in the hopes that the ARVN would be able to protect their own country. By 1972 the US forces were down to 100,000 troops of which only 5,000 were combat troops.
While the forces of the US were being withdrawn, the North Vietnamese Army was steadily building its forces in Cambodia. Once they reached a level of troops, over 200,000, the North Vietnamese sought assistance from Russia and China guaranteeing victory and the fall of Saigon. Backed by the Russians with 200 tanks, Anti-Aircraft Artillery, and Surface to air missiles the NVA/ VC attack was ready.
With an election coming up in the US and its involvement in an already unpopular conflict the NVA/VC felt this would be a prime opportunity to attack with the thought that the US would not intervene. The Attack started on the 30th of March and was a complex strategy. The advantage of taking An Loc was that high way 13 ran from Cambodia through An Loc to Saigon. The path of least resistance in that it was a 78 KM direct route, seemed to be the viable choice.
Armed with over 200,000 fully well supplied and armed men, 200 soviet made tanks, numerous amounts of a variety of artillery pieces as well as Anti-Aircraft Artillery, the NVA/VC generals and politicians were ready to take Saigon. Instead of massing all their resources on one objective, they believed they could accomplish the task on 3 different planes of the battlefield using attacks in 3 different Military regions (MR). The troops of the VNA/VC had a willingness to persevere, and triumph and believed they would be successful. One account I read was that the troops were found chained to their tanks and weapons.
On the afternoon of March 30 1972 the VNA/VC started their attack on the pursuit of occupying AN Loc. The attack would happen in 3 steps. Step one all the firebases along the DMZ and Cambodian border were simultaneously attacked by dismounted troops and tanks. Confused, ARVN held their...