The M48 Patton was a main battle tank, designed in the United States. It was the third tank to be named after General George S. Patton, commander of the U. S. Third Army during World War II and one of the earliest American advocates for the use of tanks in battle, it was a further development of the M47 Patton tank. The M48 Patton was in U. S. service until replaced by the M60 and served as the U. S. Army and Marine Corps' primary battle tank during the Vietnam War, it was used by U. S. Cold War allies other NATO countries; the M48 Patton tank was designed to replace the previous M47 M4 Shermans. Although bearing some semblance to the M47, the M48 was a new design, featuring a complete new turret as well as modified hull, it was the last U. S. tank to mount the 90 mm tank gun, with the last model, the M48A5, being upgraded to carry the new standard weapon of the M60, the 105mm gun. Some M48A5 models served well into the 1980s with U. S. Army National Guard units, many M48s remain in service in other countries.
The Turkish Army has the largest number of modernized M48 MBTs, with more than 1,400 in its inventory. Of these, around 1,000 have been placed in storage, or modified as ARVs. In February 1951, the Army initiated the design of the new tank, designated the 90mm Gun Tank T-48. By January 1952 Army officials were considering whether the lighter T42 medium tank was better suited to the doctrine preferred by the Ordnance Department that called for lighter, more agile tanks. A deeper modernization than the M46 and the M47, the M48 featured a new hemispherical turret, a redesigned hull similar to the T43 heavy tank, an improved suspension; the hull machine gunner position was removed. In April 1953, the Army standardized the last of the Patton series tanks as the 90mm Gun Tank M48 Patton. In April 1952 Chrysler Corporation began production of the M48 at its Newark, plant; the tank was christened after the late General George S. Patton at its public debut at the Chrysler plant in July. General Motors and Ford Motor Company produced the tank in Michigan.
In July the Army awarded American Locomotive Company a $200 million contract to produce the tank. In December Chrysler took on orders intended for the American Locomotive after the Army ordered production cutbacks to its tank program. Under the "single, efficient producer" model of Defense Secretary Charles Erwin Wilson the Army was directed to reduce the number of contractors producing each model of tank. General Motors underbid Chrysler, in September 1953 Army Secretary Robert T. Stevens awarded GM's Fisher Body division a $200 million contract to become the sole producer of the M48; the decision raised skepticism in lawmakers. Senator Estes Kefauver noted the move would leave GM as the only producer of light and medium tanks when Chrysler wrapped up M48 production by April 1954; the Defense Department was called to the Senate Armed Services Committee in January 1954 to defend the single-producer decision. During hearings Army Under-Secretary John Slezak said the move reduced costs, that multiple producers were unnecessary to fulfill the Army's diminishing needs for new tanks.
Months Chrysler underbid GM in the new round of proposals. In September 1954 the Army awarded Chrysler an exclusive $160.6 million contract to restart production. In November 1955 the Army awarded Alco Products a $73 million contract to begin producing 600 M48A2s the next year. Alco opted to wrap up its tank business when its contract ended in July 1957. In May 1957 the Army awarded Chrysler, the only bidder, a $119 million contract to continue production of the M48A2 in Delaware and Muskegon, Michigan. In 1960 the Government Accounting Office, investigating performance of Army and Marine tanks, found that the M48 and M48A1 were "seriously defective vehicles." In November a House Armed Services investigation corroborated the GAO report, disputed by Army Secretary Wilber M. Brucker. Nearly 12,000 M48s were built from 1952 to 1959; the early designs, up to the M48A2C, were powered by a gasoline 12-cylinder engine and a 1-cylinder auxiliary generator. The gasoline engine versions gave the tank a shorter operating range and were more prone to catching fire when hit.
Although considered less reliable than diesel-powered versions, numerous examples saw combat use in various Arab–Israeli conflicts. The low flashpoint of hydraulic fluid used in the recoil mechanisms and hydraulic systems for rotating weapons or aiming devices was less than 212 °F and could result in a fireball in the crew compartment when the lines were ruptured; the fluid was not peculiar to the M48 and is no longer used in combat armored vehicles, having been replaced by fire resistant hydraulic fluid. Beginning in 1959, most American M48s were upgraded to the M48A3 model, which featured a more reliable and longer-range diesel power plant. M48s with gasoline engines, were still in use in the US Army through 1968, through 1975 by many West German Army units. In February 1963, the US Army accepted the first of 600 M48 Patton tanks, converted to M48A3s, by 1964 the US Marine Corps had received 419 Patton tanks; the A3 model introduced the diesel engine, countering the earlier versions' characteristic of catching fire.
These Pattons were to be deployed to battle in Vietnam. Because all M48A3 tanks were conversions from earlier models, many characteristics varied among individual examples of this type. M48A3 tanks could have either three or five support rollers on each side and might have either the early or type headlight assemblies. In the mid-1970s, the vehicle was modifi
Thừa Thiên-Huế Province
Thừa Thiên-Huế is a province in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam in the centre of the country. It borders Quảng Trị Province to the north and Đà Nẵng to the south, Laos to the west and the East Sea to the east; the province has 22,000 ha of lagoons and over 200,000 ha of forest. There is an extensive complex of imperial tombs and temples in Huế; the region's history dates back some 2,800 years according to archaeological findings from the Sa Huynh Culture as well as from relics in the region. Đại Việt became an independent nation around 938 BC of which territorial conflict lasts for about four centuries between the Đại Việt and the Champa. The two provinces changed their names to Thanh and Hóa. In 1307, Đoàn Nhữ Hài was appointed by Trần Anh Tông, to administer the area; the people from the north integrated with the people of the Kingdom of Champa. During this time, had the settlement of Hoa Chau Province began, which included the area of present-day Thừa Thiên. Between the settlement of Thuận Hóa to the founding of Phú Xuân, there were conflicts and uncertainties for the local people, which including the fall of the Trần Dynasty to the renaissance of the Hồ dynasty.
Thuận Hóa and Phú Xuân became the location of the Đại Việt kingdom once Nguyễn Hoàng was appointed head of Thuận Hóa. Lord Nguyễn Hoàng established bases at Ai Tu, Tra Bat and Dinh Cat, while his lords moved palaces to Kim Long, where they would base their operations in Phú Xuân; the Nguyễn lords ruled the area until it taken over the Trinh clan in 1775. The farmers movement led by the Tây Sơn brothers gained momentum in 1771; the Tây Sơn insurgent army won the battle in Phú Xuân to take over the Nguyễn capital in 1786, where they continued north and overthrew the Trinh Dynasty. In Phú Xuân, Nguyễn Huế appointed himself king, with internal differences with the Tây Sơn Movement and the death of Nguyễn Huế, Nguyễn Ánh took advantage of the situation and took over Gia Định with the support of foreign forces. Nguyễn Huế attached to the Tây Sơn movement and took over Phú Xuân and the throne, thereby choosing the dynasty title of Gia Long. Phú Xuân was again chosen as the capital of Vietnam until 1945's August Revolution.
Prior to 1975, the province was known as Thừa Thiên. The province is known as an area of heavy fighting during the Vietnam War, as it was the second-most northerly province of the South Vietnam, close to the North Vietnamese border at the 17th parallel. More U. S. soldiers died in this province than in any other province in Vietnam. The Massacre at Huế occurred here. Thừa Thiên-Huế province saw a large influx of North Vietnamese settlers soon after the Vietnam War ended, as with the rest of the former South; this province and neighbouring Quảng Nam Province suffered from flooding in November 1999. Thừa Thiên-Huế Province borders Quảng Trị Province to the north, the city of Đà Nẵng to the east, Quảng Nam Province to the south, the Savannakhet and Sekong provinces of Laos to the west; the Perfume River passes through the province. The province accommodates the Tam Giang Cầu Hai Lagoon, the largest lagoon in Southeast Asia, 68 kilometres long with a surface area of 220 square kilometres; the province comprises four different zones: a mountainous area, hills and lagoons separated from the sea by sandbanks.
It has 128 kilometres of beaches. The mountains, covering more than half the total surface of the province, are along the west and southwest border of the province, their height varying from 500 metres to 1,480 metres; the hills are lower, between 20 metres and 200 metres, with some points at 400 metres, occupy about a third of the province's area, between the mountains and the plains. The plains account for about a tenth of the surface area, with a height of only up to 20 metres above sea level. Between the hills are the lagoons which occupy the remaining five per cent of the province's surface area. Bạch Mã National Park is a protected area near the city of Hué, it covers 220 square kilometres and comprises three zones: a protected core area, an administrative area and a buffer zone. The climate is similar to central Vietnam in general: a tropical monsoon climate. In the plains and in the hills, the average annual temperature is 25 °C, but in the mountains only 21 °C; the cool season is from November to March with cold northeasterly winds.
The lowest average monthly temperature is in January: 20 °C. In the cool season temperatures can fall to 12 °C in the plains and the relative humidity is high, between 85 and 95 per cent. Follows a warmer period from April to September with average monthly temperatures up to 29 °C in July, reaching up to 41 °C at times, it is humid in July but relative humidity is lower, sometimes down to 50 per cent. The annual precipitation in the province is 3,200 millimetres but there are important variations. Depending on the year the annual average may be 2,500 millimetres to 3,500 millimetres in the plains and 3,000 millimetres to 4,500 millimetres in the mountains. In some years the rainfall may be much higher and reach more than 5,000 millimetres in the mountains; the rainy season is from September to December—about 70 per cent of the precipitation occurring in those months. Rainfall occurs in short heavy burs
Quảng Trị (town)
Quảng Trị is a District level town in Quảng Trị Province in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam. It is second of two municipalities in the province after the provincial capital Đông Hà; the Sino-Vietnamese name Quảng Trị was given by Vietnamese Confucian administrators. A major feature of the town is the Quảng Trị Citadel, built in 1824, as a military bastion during the 4th year of the reign of Minh Mạng, it is an example of Vauban architecture and it became the administrative head office of the Nguyễn Dynasty in Quảng Trị Province. Quảng Trị was an area of early Catholic presence and by 1913, the nearest railway station to the starting point of the La Vang pilgrimage. During the Vietnam War, when the province was the South's border with North Vietnam, it suffered a major attack in the January 1968 Tet Offensive and it was the only South Vietnamese provincial capital to be captured by the North Vietnamese forces in the 1972 Easter Offensive before being recaptured in September 1972. Hieu Van Le, Governor of the Australian state of South Australia, was born here in 1954.
The 1968 Tet Offensive Battles of Quang Tri City and Hue
Quảng Trị Province
Quảng Trị is a province in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam, north of the former imperial capital of Huế. Located in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam, Quảng Trị Province is surrounded by Quảng Bình Province to the north. Except for the narrow piedmont coastal plains, the terrain is dominated by hills and the Annamite Mountains; the highlands, characterized by steep slopes, sharp crests, narrow valleys, are covered by a dense broadleaf evergreen forest. Most of the peaks are from 4,000 feet to 7,000 feet feet high; the narrow coastal plains flanking the highlands on the east have rocky headlands and consist of belts of sand dunes and, in areas where the soil is suitable, rice fields. From the crests that mark the drainage divide in the highlands, streams flow either east towards the East Sea or west into Laos or Cambodia; those flowing eastward follow short courses through deep narrow valleys over rocky bottoms until they reach the coastal plains, where they slow down and disperse.
The westward flowing streams follow longer traces, sometimes through deep canyons which are subject to seasonal flooding. The weather features a wide range of temperatures and rainfall, with hot and dry south-west winds during the Southwest Monsoon, much cooler wet weather during the rainy season. Annual average temperature is 24 °C, but temperatures can drop as low as 7 °C during the rainy season. In the immediate prehistorical period, the lowlands of Quảng Trị and central Vietnam as a whole were occupied by Cham peoples, speaking a Malayo-Polynesian language, culturally distinct from the Vietnamese to the north along the Red River; the Qin conquered parts of present-day Central Vietnam at the end of the 3rd century BCE, administered the indigenous peoples of the area through a commandery, for several centuries. A rebellion by the Cham in the 2nd century CE overthrew Chinese control and reestablished local government. Beginning in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Chams were defeated in the area by Vietnamese armies, ethnic Vietnamese displaced or absorbed those Chams who had not fled.
Over time a distinct Vietnamese dialectical and cultural subgroup developed in the area. The region was seized by the French by 1874. In 1887 it became part of French Indochina. Upon the division of Vietnam in 1954 into North and South, Quảng Trị became the northernmost province of the Republic of Vietnam. Beginning 1964, the province became a center for American bases after October 1966, when the 3rd Marine Division moved to bases just south of the demilitarized zone. In 1966, North Vietnamese forces began occupying the northern region and pushing deeper into the province; the provincial capital, Quảng Trị City, was overrun and occupied by Communist troops in April 1967, was a principal battleground during the 1968 Tet Offensive when it was again overrun by North Vietnamese troops and held for a short period before being recaptured by South Vietnamese government and U. S. forces. The Battle of Khe Sanh was a part of the North's steady efforts to occupy the whole of the province. After Khe Sanh was evacuated in July 1968, the North Vietnamese continued their efforts to take the entire province.
The most notable achievement of the North Vietnamese offensive in 1972 was capturing Quảng Trị, although they lost much of the territory gained during the South Vietnamese counter-offensive from June through September 1972. In 2000, Clear Path International removed unexploded ordnance left by the United States in Quảng Trị province, at the time the largest unexploded ordnance removal effort by an NGO in Vietnam's history. Since 1999, Mines Advisory Group has maintained operations in Quảng Trị and neighbouring Quảng Bình Province, providing the only civilian staffed demining and UXO clearance operations in Vietnam. Rebuilding in the areas cleared of mines is Roots of Peace working with MAG on a demine-replant model, clearing areas and working with local farmers to plant high value crops. Quảng Trị is subdivided into 10 district-level sub-divisions: 8 districts: 1 district-level town: Quảng Trị 1 provincial city: Đông Hà They are further subdivided into 11 commune-level towns, 117 communes, 13 wards.
There are many non-governmental organizations working in Quảng Trị. One of the biggest problems which they are focusing on is the explosive remnants of war. Below is the list of NGOs who are active in helping Quảng Trị Province deal with this problem: Clear Path International Mines Advisory Group PeaceTrees Vietnam Project RENEW Roots of Peace The National Route 1A runs north-south of this province. Vietnam–Laos road runs west-east of this province and has a junction with national road 1A. Hanoi–Saigon Railway goes through Quảng Trị. Quảng Trị Airport will be built 7 km north of Đông Hà; the province's name derives from Sino-Vietnamese 廣治. Bến Hải River https://www.quangtri.gov.vn/portal/pages/http--webthunghiemqt-quangtri-gov-vn-portal-Pages-.aspx
Ngô Quang Trưởng
Ngô Quang Trưởng was an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Trưởng gained his commission in the Vietnamese National Army in 1954 and moved up the ranks over the next decade in the Airborne Brigade. In 1966, Trưởng commanded a division for the first time after he was given command of the 1st Division after helping to quell the Buddhist Uprising, he rebuilt the unit after this divisive period and used it to repel the communists and reclaimed the imperial citadel of Huế after weeks of bitter street fighting during the Tết Offensive. In 1970, Trưởng was given command of IV Corps in the Mekong Delta and improved the situation there to such an extent that he allowed some of his forces to be redeployed to other parts of the country that were finding the communist pressure difficult. In 1972, he was made the commander of I Corps after incompetent leadership by General Hoàng Xuân Lãm resulted in a South Vietnamese collapse in the face of the Easter Offensive, a massive conventional invasion by North Vietnam.
He stabilized the ARVN forces before turning back the communists. In 1975, the communists attacked again; this time, President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu gave contradictory orders to Trưởng as to whether he should stand and fight or give up some territory and consolidate. This led to the demoralization of I Corps and its collapse, allowing the communists to gather momentum and overrun South Vietnam within two months. Trưởng settled in Virginia in the United States. Trưởng was born in 1929 to a wealthy family in the Mekong Delta province of Kiến Hòa. At the time, Vietnam was part of French Indochina. After graduating from Mỹ Tho College, a French colonial-run school in the Mekong Delta provincial town of Mỹ Tho, Trưởng attended the reserve officer school at Thủ Đức in Saigon, was commissioned as an infantry officer in the Vietnamese National Army in 1954. Upon graduation from Thủ Đức, Trưởng went on to airborne school at the Command and Staff School of the Vietnamese National Military Academy at Đà Lạt, he served in the elite airborne brigade the next 12 years.
His first posting was as commander of 5th Airborne Battalion. After graduating from Đà Lạt, he soon saw action in a 1955 operation to eliminate the Bình Xuyên river pirates who were vying with President Diệm's government for control of Saigon and the surrounding area. In recognition of his performance against the Bình Xuyên, Trưởng was promoted to first lieutenant; when the Republic of Vietnam was created in 1955, the VNA became the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. In 1964, Trưởng was made commander of the 5th Airborne Battalion, he led a heliborne assault into Đỗ Xá Secret Zone in Minh Long District, Quảng Ngãi Province, in central Vietnam. This attack destroyed the base area of the Việt Cộng's B-1 Front Headquarters. In 1965, Trưởng led the 5th Airborne Battalion on a helicopter assault into the Hắc Dịch Secret Zone in the vicinity of the Ong Trinh Mountain in Phước Tuy Province southeast of Saigon, the base area of the 7th Việt Cộng Division. In two days of fighting, Trưởng's 5th Battalion inflicted heavy casualties on two communist regiments, he was awarded a battlefield promotion to lieutenant colonel and the National Defense Medal, Fourth Class.
After the battle, Trưởng became chief of staff of the Airborne Brigade and became chief of staff of the division in the year. His reputation for valour and fairness gained the attention of the senior generals in Saigon. General Cao Văn Viên, chief of the Joint General Staff from 1965 to 1975 described Trưởng as "one of the best commanders at every echelon the Airborne Division had."In 1966, civil disorder broke out in central Vietnam, Buddhists protested military control of the government. Trưởng was asked to quell the rebellious 1st Division in Huế, which had decided to stop military operations with the communists in solidarity with the Buddhist protest movement. A Buddhist, Trưởng, was uncomfortable with his mission. On 18 June, he commanded three airborne battalions that entered the city and restored order within two days and he put the 1st Division under government control; as a result of his efficient display, Saigon made the appointment permanent. With his hands-on leadership, Trưởng moulded the unit, which had a poor reputation prior to his arrival, had been weakened by the infighting of the past year, into one of the best units in the ARVN.
Trưởng handpicked his leading subordinate officers and put his battalions in the hands of majors who had many years of combat experience. Unlike most, he eschewed politics in choosing his officers, implemented new training programs to improve the capability of his troops and Regional and Popular Forces that augmented them. Trưởng's dedication to his unit and leadership raised the morale of his subordinates; as part of his strategy of better integrating the territorial forces with the regular army, Trưởng had his battalion commanders act as district chiefs, who worked only with the territorial forces. As a result, the regulars began to coordinate their pacification campaigns more with the paramilitary forces. In 1967, Trưởng's 1st Division assaulted and dismantled the Việt Cộng infrastructure and a large part of their fighters from the Luong Co-Dong Xuyen-My Xa Front in Hương Trà District in Thừa Thiên-Huế Province. Trưởng was rewarded with a promotion to brigadier general. During the Tết Offensive, Trưởng led the 1st Division in the Battle of Huế as the communists were expelled from the old imperial city after three weeks of bitter street fighting.
Following the famous victory in the citadel, Trưởng was give
The Vietnam War known as the Second Indochina War, in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union and other communist allies; the war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U. S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975. American military advisors began arriving in what was French Indochina in 1950 to support the French in the First Indochina War against the communist-led Viet Minh. Most of the funding for the French war effort was provided by the U. S. After the French quit Indochina in 1954, the US assumed financial and military responsibility for the South Vietnamese state.
The Việt Cộng known as Front national de libération du Sud-Viêt Nam or NLF, a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, initiated a guerrilla war against the South Vietnamese government in 1959. U. S. involvement escalated in 1960, continued in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy, with troop levels surging under the MAAG program from just under a thousand in 1959 to 16,000 in 1963. By 1964, there were 23,000 U. S. troops in Vietnam, but this escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U. S. destroyer was alleged to have clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft. In response, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authorization to increase U. S. military presence, deploying ground combat units for the first time and increasing troop levels to 184,000. Past this point, the People's Army of Vietnam known as the North Vietnamese Army engaged in more conventional warfare with US and South Vietnamese forces; every year onward there was significant build-up of US forces despite little progress, with Robert McNamara, one of the principal architects of the war, beginning to express doubts of victory by the end of 1966.
U. S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces and airstrikes. The U. S. conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam. The Tet Offensive of 1968, proved to be the turning point of the war; the Tet Offensive showed that the end of US involvement was not in sight, increasing domestic skepticism of the war. The unconventional and conventional capabilities of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam increased following a period of neglect and became modeled on heavy firepower-focused doctrines like US forces. Operations crossed international borders. S. forces. Gradual withdrawal of U. S. ground forces began as part of "Vietnamization", which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the communists to the South Vietnamese themselves and began the task of modernizing their armed forces. Direct U. S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973 as a result of the Case–Church Amendment passed by the U.
S. Congress; the capture of Saigon by the NVA in April 1975 marked the end of the war, North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3.8 million. Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians, 58,220 U. S. service members died in the conflict, a further 1,626 remain missing in action. The Sino-Soviet split re-emerged following the lull during the Vietnam War and confllict between North Vietnam and its Cambodian allies in the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea, the newly-formed Democratic Kampuchea begun immediately in a series of border raids by the Khmer Rouge and erupted into the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, with Chinese forces directly intervening in the Sino-Vietnamese War; the end of the war and resumption of the Third Indochina War would precipitate the Vietnamese boat people and the bigger Indochina refugee crisis, which saw an estimated 250,000 people perish at sea.
Within the US the war gave rise to what was referred to as Vietnam Syndrome, a public aversion to American overseas military involvements, which together with Watergate contributed to the crisis of confidence that affected America throughout the 1970s. Various names have been applied to the conflict. Vietnam War is the most used name in English, it has been called the Second Indochina War and the Vietnam Conflict. As there have been several conflicts in Indochina, this particular conflict is known by the names of its primary protagonists to distinguish it from others. In Vietnamese, the war is known as Kháng chiến chống Mỹ, but less formally as'Cuộc chiến tranh Mỹ', it is called Chiến tranh Việt Nam. The primary military organizations involved in the war were as follows: One side consisted of th
The Easter Offensive known as The 1972 Spring - Summer Offensive by North Vietnam, or Red fiery summer as romanticized in South Vietnamese literature, was a military campaign conducted by the People's Army of Vietnam against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and the United States military between 30 March and 22 October 1972, during the Vietnam War. This conventional invasion was a radical departure from previous North Vietnamese offensives; the offensive was not designed to win the war outright but to gain as much territory and destroy as many units of the ARVN as possible, to improve the North's negotiating position as the Paris Peace Accords drew towards a conclusion. 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 with the bulk of the North Vietnamese army. This first attempt by the Democratic Republic of 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. PAVN eliminated frontier defense forces in the II Corps Tactical Zone and advanced to seize the provincial capital of Kon Tum, which would have opened the way to the sea, splitting South Vietnam in two. North-east 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. 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, 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.
In the wake of the failed South Vietnamese Operation Lam Son 719, the Hanoi leadership began discussing a possible offensive during the 19th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Workers' Party in early 1971. By December, the Politburo had decided to launch a major offensive early in the following year. 1972 would be a U. S. presidential election year, the possibility of affecting the outcome was enticing and there was increasing anti-war sentiment among the population and government of the U. S. With American troop withdrawals, South Vietnamese forces were stretched to breaking point along a border of more than 600 miles and the poor performance of ARVN troops in the offensive into Laos promised an easy victory; this decision marked the end of three years of political infighting between two factions within the Politburo: those members grouped around Trường Chinh, who favored following the Chinese model of continued low-intensity guerrilla warfare and rebuilding the north and the "southern firsters" around Defense Minister Võ Nguyên Giáp, supported by First Party Secretary Lê Duẩn.
The failure of the Tet Offensive of 1968, had led to a downgrading of Giap's influence but the victory achieved over South Vietnamese forces during the Laotian incursion, brought Giap's strategy back into the ascendant. Lê Duẩn was given responsibility for planning the operation but Giap never rose to his former prominence, dealing chiefly with logistical matters and the approval of operational planning; the officer entrusted with the conduct of the offensive was the PAVN chief of staff, General Văn Tiến Dũng. The central questions became where and with what forces the offensive would be launched and what its goals were to be. North Vietnam had used the border regions of Laos and Cambodia as supply and manpower conduits for a decade and a demilitarized zone that separated the two Vietnams. There, the line of communication would be shortest and forces could be concentrated where "the enemy is weakest...violent attacks will disintegrate enemy forces...making it impossible for him to have enough troops to deploy elsewhere."
This was an important consideration, since the northern thrust would serve to divert South Vietnamese attention and resources, while two other attacks were to be launched: one into the central highlands, to cut the country in two and another eastwards from Cambodia to threaten Saigon. The offensive was given a title steeped in Vietnamese history. In 1773, the three Tây Sơn brothers united a Vietnam divided by social unrest; the youngest brother, Nguyễn Huệ defeated an invading Chinese army on the outskirts of Hanoi in 1788. The campaign employed the equivalent of 14 divisions but decisive victory was not part of the North Vietnamese strategy; the goals were much more limited. There was the distinct possibili