Battle of Cửa Việt was a battle in the Vietnam War, occurring between 25–31 January 1973 at the Cửa Việt naval base and its vicinity, in northeast Quảng Trị Province. The battle involved a combined task force of South Vietnamese Marine and armored units that tried to gain a foothold at the Cua Viet Port just as the ceasefire was about to take effect on January 28 in accordance with the Paris Peace Accords. The South Vietnamese forces were finally forced to retreat by a North Vietnamese counterattack with considerable losses on both sides.
|Battle of Cửa Việt|
|Part of the Vietnam War|
United States (until 28 January)
|Commanders and leaders|
Lê Trọng Tấn|
Cao Van Khanh
Ngô Quang Trưởng|
Nguyen Thanh Tri
|Casualties and losses|
|South Vietnamese claim: 1,000 casualties||
: 40 killed, 20 tanks destroyed|
North Vietnamese claim: 2,330 killed and wounded, 200 captured, 113 tanks destroyed
In late October 1972 as part of the counteroffensive to the Easter Offensive launched by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) began attacks north of Quảng Trị to try to regain positions along the south bank of the Cam Lộ/Cửa Việt River. The attacks were met with stiff PAVN resistance and were stopped at the Thạch Hãn River. A further attack from the coast by the Vietnamese Marines in November made limited gains. By the end of 1972 the Marines and ARVN occupied positions 5 km south of the river. As the ongoing peace negotiations would soon lead to a ceasefire, the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff sought the most advantageous battlefield positions possible and so ordered a further effort to regain the south bank of the Cam Lộ/Cửa Việt River.:134
Since March 1972, the Cửa Việt base had been controlled by PAVN, particularly the 5th Regiment of the People's Navy of Vietnam.
On 15 January 1973 planning began for a final assault on Cửa Việt . A special combined unit called Task Force Tango was organized, consisting of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Battalions and elements of the 1st Armored Brigade. The task force was put under the command of Colonel Nguyen Thanh Tri, Deputy Commander of the Republic of Vietnam Marine Division.:134
The operation began at 06:55 on 26 January with Task Force Tango advancing in two columns.:134 Besides ARVN firepower, twelve B-52 bombers from the US Air Force and naval gunfire of the United States Seventh Fleet was used to soften the target and hinder PAVN reinforcements. The PAVN put up fierce resistance to the attack, destroying 26 M-48s and M-113s with AT-3 missiles and shooting down two Republic of Vietnam Air Force planes with SA-7 missiles.:135 At 01:45 on 28 January the Marines made a final assault and by 07:00 had broken through the PAVN lines to recapture the base. At 08:00 in accordance with the Paris Peace Accords the ceasefire came into effect and the U.S. stopped all support for Task Force Tango.:135 On the evening of 29 January, the PAVN launched a counterattack against Task Force Tango, and by the next day had succeeded in cutting off its lines of communication and began bombarding the encircled Marines.:136 A Republic of Vietnam Navy LCM was destroyed as it tried to resupply the Marines. The Marines attempted to break out on the early morning of 31 January and the PAVN recaptured the base.:136
South Vietnamese losses were recorded as 40 casualties and 20 armored vehicles destroyed in the battle between 28–31 January.:136
The 9M14 Malyutka (Russian: Малютка; "Little one", NATO reporting name: AT-3 Sagger) is a manual command to line of sight (MCLOS) wire-guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system developed in the Soviet Union. It was the first man-portable anti-tank guided missile of the Soviet Union and is probably the most widely produced ATGM of all time—with Soviet production peaking at 25,000 missiles a year during the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, copies of the missile have been manufactured under various names by at least five countries.
Since supplemented by more advanced anti-tank guided missiles, the Sagger and its variants have seen widespread use in nearly every regional conflict since the 1960s.Republic of Vietnam Marine Division
The Republic of Vietnam Marine Division (RVNMD, Vietnamese: Sư Đoàn Thủy Quân Lục Chiến [TQLC]) was part of the armed forces of South Vietnam. It was established by Ngo Dinh Diem in 1954 when he was Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam, which became the Republic of Vietnam in 1955. The longest-serving commander was Lieutenant General Le Nguyen Khang. In 1969, the VNMC had a strength of 9,300, 15,000 by 1973., and 20,000 by 1975.The Marine Division trace their origins to French-trained Commandos Marine divisions recruited and placed under the command of the French Navy but officially incorporated in 1960. From 1970 onwards, the South Vietnamese marines and Airborne Division grew significantly, supplanting the independent, Central Highlands based Vietnamese Rangers as the most popular elite units for volunteers. Along with the Airborne the Marine Division formed the General Reserve with the strategic transformation under Vietnamization, with elite and highly-mobile units meant to be deployed in People's Army of Vietnam attacking points and incursions. By then, the level of training had improved considerably and U.S. General Creighton Abrams who oversaw Vietnamization stated that South Vietnam's Airborne and Marines had no comparable units to match it in the PAVN.This division had earned a total of 9 U.S. presidential citations, with the 2nd Battalion "Crazy Buffaloes" earning two.Second Battle of Quảng Trị
The Second Battle of Quang Tri began on 28 June 1972 and lasted 81 days until 16 September 1972, when South Vietnam's Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) defeated the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) at the ancient citadel of Quảng Trị (Vietnamese: Thành cổ Quảng Trị) and recaptured most of Quảng Trị Province.
Easter Offensive (1972)
Post-Paris Peace Accords (1973–1974)