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[Image 1: Marine Corps Historical
Collection. NVA troops
advance on Ban Me Thuot in a coordinated three-division assault. As a result
of the swiftness
of the 10 March attack, some Americans were taken prisoner and struggled
to survive under grueling circumstances until their release in November of
1975.]

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buro to a major offensive in the South and dictated his strategy. The main
attack would be directed against the weakest link in the South Vietnamese
Army's defensive chain, Military Region 2. Commanded by Major General Pham
Van Phu, the Central Highlands represented the Achilles heel of the South
Vietnamese armor, the most thinly defended area in all of South Vietnam. Furthermore,
the South Vietnamese had concentrated their forces in the northern portion
of the region, in the vicinity of Pleiku and Kontum. Therefore, General Dung
decided to strike first at Ban Me Thuot, a city in Darlac Province in the
southern part of the region. He codenamed the battle plan "Campaign 275."6


At the beginning of 1975, the North Vietnamese had two divisions and two independent regiments in MR 2. During the month of January, they moved the headquarters and two regiments of the 968th NVA Division (one of the "new divisions" created in September 1968, hence the 968 designation) from southern Laos into the Due Co area of Pleiku Province. In mid-February, North Vietnam deployed the 516th NVA Division to Darlac Province. The }16th Division, one of the organizations in North Vietnam's strategic reserve, moved by truck from the Thanh Hoa area of North Vietnam through Quang Tri Province (via the new all-weather road network) to Military Region 2 for a rendezvous with the other divisions committed to the impending coordinated assault on Ban Me Thuot. Eventually, the members of this division would combine forces with the 10th NVA Division and the }20th NVA Division, also enroute to objectives in Darlac Province, to defeat the defenders of this strategic region.7


In preparation for such an assault, the North Vietnamese, between January 1973 and January 1975, increased their strategic reserve from two to seven divisions (not including the 968th Division). This significant enlargement indicated both the NVA'S offensive intentions and their planned means of execution. They would use their lines of communication to exploit the advantage they held over the ARVN-possession of a large, mobile force in reserve. During the same period, North Vietnam completed a road network in the area, prepositioned supplies in abundant quantities, and established command posts. In addition, most of the troops committed to this campaign were familiar with the battlefield and many of them









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