Page 068

[Image 1: Marine Corps Historical Collection. North Vietnamese Army soldiers
capture Phuoc Long (Song Be) City, capital of Phuoc Long Province. On 6 January
more than
troops, the defenders of Phuoc Long surrendered, making it the first province
since 1954 to fall to Communists.]


Page 68(The North Vietnamese Winter-Spring Offensive, 1974-75:
The Mortal Blow)

size=5>CHAPTER 5

Page 68(The Bitter End)

size=5>The North Vietnamese Winter-Spring Offensive, 1974-75:

size=5>The Mortal Blow

The Collapse of the Central Highlands-Defeat
in Military Region 1-A Wasted Division  

By the end of 1974, the balance of ground combat power in
South Vietnam had clearly shifted in favor of the North VietnameseArmy. In spite
of this advantage, the North Vietnamese leadership still harbored some doubts
as to their ability to conquer the South rapidly. The ruling Politboro of North
Vietnam met in Hanoi from 18 December 1974 until 8 January 1975 for the purpose
of resolving the timetable for the conquest of South Vietnam. Hanoi apparently
also had its own "hawks and doves." General Van Tien Dung, chief of
staff of the North Vietnamese Army, counselled that the possibility of a resumption
of American bombing cound not be disregarded. This issue was discounted as not
insurmountable and depending on United States reaction, possibly not even a

On 13 December 1974 at Don Luan where Inter-provincial
Route 1A intersects Route 13, the 301st NVA Corps undertook a campaign
to capture Phuoc Long, a province in MR 3 bounded on the north by Cambodia.
This offensive marked the beginning of North Vietnam's new strategy of attacking
not only to destroy the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, but to capture populated
areas as well. To accomplish its objective of seizing the provincial capital
of Phuoc Long City, tucked between the Be River and Ba Ra Mountain, 75 miles
northeast of Saigon, the NVA employed its recently formed 3d Division, 7th
, a tank battalion, an artillery regiment, an antiaircraft regiment,
and local force and sapper units. The Communists planned to use these forces
to effect its new strategy of capturing populated areas by striking a city's
center first and then in the resultant confusion and chaos, detroying from within
its defensive perimeter, General Dung, who had employed this style of fighting
with much success against the French in 1952, said: "We sent our troops
in, avoiding enemy positions in the outer perimeter...and unexpectedly struck
right in town, wiping out the nerve


Page 68(The Bitter End)