Page 069

The North Vietnamese Winter-Spring Offensive





[Image 1: Map
adapted from Gen Cao Van Vien, The
Final Collapse
(Washington:
U.S. Army Center of Military History,
1983).]

Page 69(The Bitter End)




center of the enemy command, taking the town in one day and only then sending
the troops out to destroy the perimeter outposts. We called these tactics
the 'paratroop' tactics or the 'blooming lotus.' " The NVA would use
a variation of the "blooming lotus" to capture Phuoc Long Province
and upon that success build a battle plan that would know no defeat.1

North Vietnam's tactics in the Phuoc Long campaign involved isolating each
garrison, attacking it, and through massive shelling and sheer numbers, overturning
it. by this process, which lasted less than three weeks, the NVA captured
Duc Phong, Bo Duc, Bunard Fire Support Base, Don Luan, and, with the fall
of Phuoc Long City on 6 January, the province. Phuoc Long became the first
province since 1954 to fall intact into the hands of Hanoi's forces, and its
capture exposed the VNAF's gravest weakness, the absence of an uncommitted
reserve. For the South Vietnamese, it meant not only the strategic loss of
territory in an area of intense North Vietnamese infiltration, but the loss
of more than 3,000 soldiers including nearly half of the 250 members whom
the elite 81st Ranger Group committed to the battle. At 0900 on 5 January,
in a desperate attempt to save the besieged capital, the JGS inserted by helicopter
these veterans of the 1972 South Vietnamese victory at An Loc, chosen for
the mission because of their ability to fight behind enemy lines. The NVA
tanks proved an unfair match and 39 hours

 

 


Page 69(The Bitter End)