Operation Linebacker was the codename of a U.S. Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 air interdiction campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) from 9 May to 23 October 1972, during the Vietnam War.
Its purpose was to halt or slow the transportation of supplies and materials for the Nguyen Hue Offensive (known in the West as the Easter Offensive), an invasion of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) by forces of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) that had been launched on 30 March. Linebacker was the first continuous bombing effort conducted against North Vietnam since the end of Operation Rolling Thunder in November 1968.
At noon on 30 March 1972, 30,000 PAVN troops, supported by regiments of tanks and artillery, rolled southward across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separated the two Vietnams. This three-division force caught the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and their American allies unprepared. The PAVN force struck the defensive positions of the ARVN 3rd Division and threw it into disarray. South Vietnamese forces then fell back, and a race began between both belligerents to the bridges at Đông Hà and Cam Lộ.
By 4 April, ARVN officers had patched together a defensive line that held the PAVN at bay, but it was only a temporary respite. Although the conventional attack by the North Vietnamese, which included the extensive use of armor and heavy artillery, riveted the attention of the allies on the northern provinces, it was only the first of three such operations that were launched that spring. On 5 April, a PAVN force of 20,000 crossed the border from their sanctuaries in Cambodia in another three-division, combined arms force to attack Bình Long Province, north of Saigon. They quickly seized the town of Lộc Ninh and then surrounded the town of An Lộc, cutting the road to the capital. On 12 April, the PAVN struck again, this time moving in from eastern Laos and seizing a series of border outposts around Đắk Tô in Kon Tum Province in the Central Highlands. The PAVN then proceeded east toward the provincial seat of Kon Tum. Hanoi had initiated the offensive to coincide with the winter monsoon, when continuous rain and low cloud cover made air support difficult.
The initial U.S. response to the offensive was lackadaisical and confused. The Pentagon was not unduly alarmed and the U.S. Ambassador and the commander of U.S. forces, General Creighton W. Abrams, were both out of the country. President Richard M. Nixon's first response was to consider a three-day attack by B-52 Stratofortress bombers on Hanoi and the port city of Haiphong. His National Security Advisor, Dr. Henry Kissinger, convinced the president to reconsider, since he did not want to jeopardize the formalization of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) with the Soviets, that was due to be signed in May. Another stumbling block to the plan was General Abrams' desire to utilize the available bombers (with their all-weather capability) to support the ARVN defense.
Both Nixon and Kissinger considered a plan offered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be both unimaginative and lacking in aggressiveness. On 4 April, Nixon authorized the bombing of North Vietnam (which had been limited to reprisal raids just above the DMZ) up to the 18th parallel. In order to prevent a total ARVN collapse and to protect American prestige during the upcoming summit meeting with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, Nixon decided to risk a massive escalation of force.
Due to the continuous withdrawal of American forces as part of the ongoing policy of Vietnamization, at the time of the invasion fewer than 10,000 U.S. combat troops remained in South Vietnam, and most of them were scheduled to leave within the next six months. The number of combat aircraft stationed in Southeast Asia was less than half that of its peak strength in 1968–1969. At the beginning of 1972, the U.S. Air Force had only three squadrons of F-4s and a single squadron of A-37s, a total of 76 aircraft, stationed in South Vietnam. Another 114 fighter-bombers were located at bases in Thailand. 83 B-52 bombers were stationed at U-Tapao RTAFB, Thailand and at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The U.S. Navy's Task Force 77 (stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin), had four aircraft carriers assigned to it, but only two were available at any one time to conduct operations. Their air wings totaled approximately 140 aircraft.
American and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) aircraft had been supporting the defense (weather permitting) since the beginning of the offensive. These strikes were conducted in support of ARVN forces, and included those of the air wings of the carriers USS Coral Sea and USS Hancock. The continuing bad weather, however, limited the ability of the U.S. aircraft to assist in stemming the North Vietnamese onslaught. By 6 April, at naval and air bases around the globe, American forces were put on alert and ships and aircraft squadrons began moving toward Southeast Asia.
The U.S. began a rapid build-up of airpower. The Air Force deployed 176 F-4 Phantoms and 12 F-105s from bases in the Republic of Korea and the U.S. to Thailand between 1 April and 11 May in Operation Constant Guard. Strategic Air Command (SAC) dispatched 124 B-52s from the U.S. to Guam bringing the total B-52 strength available for operations to 209. The Navy cut short its in-port period for the carriers USS Kitty Hawk and USS Constellation and ordered USS Midway, USS America and USS Saratoga to augment the fleet so that four or more carrier air wings could conduct missions simultaneously. 7th Fleet assets in local waters were thereby increased from 84 to 138 ships.
U.S. Air Force tactical strikes against North Vietnam north of the 20th parallel were authorized on 5 April under the nickname Freedom Train. The first large-scale B-52 raid directed against the north was conducted on 10 April when 12 B-52s, supported by 53 attack aircraft, struck petroleum storage facilities around Vinh. By 12 April, President Nixon had informed Kissinger that he had decided on a more comprehensive bombing campaign which would include strikes against both Hanoi and Haiphong.
The following day 18 B-52s struck Thanh Hóa's Bai Thuong Air Base. Three more days followed before another strike, this time by another 18 bombers in a pre-dawn attack against an oil tank farm outside Haiphong. They were followed by more than 100 tactical aircraft attacking targets around Hanoi and Haiphong during daylight. Between the 6th and the 15th, U.S. aircraft also struck and destroyed the Paul Doumer and Thanh Hóa bridges and the Yên Viên railway marshalling yard. This marked the introduction of laser-guided bombs against strategic targets in North Vietnam. Both bridges had previously been attacked unsuccessfully with conventional bombs and even missiles. The B-52s were then withdrawn from operations in the north, and when they returned in June, their missions would be limited to South Vietnam.
By mid-month, nearly all of North Vietnam had been cleared for bombing raids for the first time in over three years. Air Force and Navy commanders and pilots were relieved that Nixon (unlike President Johnson) left the operational planning to local commanders and loosened the targeting restrictions that had hampered Operation Rolling Thunder. Between 1 May and 30 June B-52s, fighter-bombers, and gunships had flown 18,000 sorties against formidable anti-aircraft defenses with the loss of 29 aircraft.
The U.S. also now began what North Vietnamese historians have described as "using devious political and diplomatic schemes...to cut back the amount of aid being supplied to us by socialist nations." On 20 April Kissinger met secretly with Brezhnev in Moscow. Unwilling to jeopardize increasingly normalized relations with the West and wary of Washington's growing relationship with Beijing, Brezhnev agreed to apply pressure to Hanoi to end the offensive and negotiate seriously.
Brezhnev then arranged for another secret meeting between Kissinger and Hanoi's lead negotiator Le Duc Tho, to be held on 2 May in Paris. On the assigned day, the two men met for a session that Kissinger later described as "brutal and insulting." The North Vietnamese, sensing victory, were in no mood to make concessions. As a result of this meeting and the fall of Quảng Trị City, Nixon was prepared to up the ante, stating that "the bastards have never been bombed like they're going to be bombed this time."
On 27 April, ARVN defenses in Quảng Trị Province began to collapse. Due to conflicting orders from their high command, ARVN units joined an exodus of refugees heading southward, abandoning Quảng Trị City. PAVN forces entered the city on the same day as the meeting between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. The PAVN offensive had become a massive conventional military operation that was being conducted on three fronts simultaneously, involving the equivalent of 15 divisions and 600 tanks. As the North Vietnamese continued to gain ground in three of South Vietnam's four military regions, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff updated their contingency plans (drawn up before the bombing halt of 1968) for the resumption of bombing in the north and recommended it to the President, who approved it on 8 May.
Shortly after his inauguration, Nixon had ordered the preparation of a contingency plan, one that would hopefully bring the Vietnam War to an end. Operation Duck Hook was to include an invasion of the North itself and included a proposal to mine its major harbors. The plan had been shelved at the time as too extreme, but it was not forgotten. The U.S. Navy had also been updating its own contingency plans for just such a mining operation since 1965. On 5 May, Nixon ordered the Joint Chiefs to prepare to execute the aerial mining portion of the Duck Hook plan within three days under the operational title Pocket Money.
At precisely 09:00 (local time) on 9 May, six US Navy A-7 Corsair IIs and three A-6 Intruders from the USS Coral Sea flew into Haiphong harbor and dropped thirty-six 1,000-pound Mark-52 and Mark-55 naval mines into its waters. They were protected from attacks by North Vietnamese MiG fighter aircraft by the guided-missile cruisers Chicago and Long Beach, with several destroyers including the guided-missile destroyer USS Berkeley launching Operation Custom Tailor, and by supporting flights of F-4 Phantoms. The reason for the precise timing of the strike became apparent when President Nixon simultaneously delivered a televised speech explaining the escalation to the American people: "The only way to stop the killing is to take the weapons of war out of the hands of the international outlaws of North Vietnam.". The mines were activated five days after their delivery in order to allow any vessels then in port to escape without damage. Over the next three days other US carrier-based aircraft laid 11,000 more mines into North Vietnam's other secondary-type harbors, effectively blockading all maritime commerce for the country.
Both before and during Pocket Money, Nixon and Kissinger had worried about the Soviet and Chinese reaction to the escalation. Hours before Nixon's speech announcing the mining, Kissinger had delivered a letter to Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin which outlined the U.S. plan, but which also made clear Nixon's willingness to proceed with the summit. The next day, Nixon shook the hand of Soviet Foreign Trade Minister Nikolai Patolichev at the White House. Although both Moscow and Beijing publicly denounced the American operation, they were not willing to jeopardize their thawing relationship with the U.S. and Hanoi's requests for support and aid from its socialist allies met with only cool responses. Nixon and Kissinger's diplomacy had triumphed and the U.S. was free to act as it pleased.
Operation Linebacker, the designation for the new interdiction campaign, would have four objectives: to isolate North Vietnam from its outside sources of supply by destroying railroad bridges and rolling stock in and around Hanoi and northeastward toward the Chinese frontier; the targeting of primary storage areas and marshalling yards; to destroy storage and transshipment points; and finally, to eliminate (or at least damage) the North's air defense system. With nearly 85 percent of North Vietnam's imports (which arrived by sea) blocked by Pocket Money, the administration and the Pentagon believed that this would cut its final lines of communication with its socialist allies. The People's Republic of China alone shipped an average of 22,000 tons of supplies a month over two rail lines and eight major roads that linked it with North Vietnam.
On 10 May Operation Linebacker began with large-scale bombing operations against North Vietnam by tactical fighter aircraft of the Seventh Air Force and Task Force 77. Their targets included the railroad switching yards at Yên Viên and the Paul Doumer Bridge, on the northern outskirts of Hanoi. A total of 414 sorties were flown on the first day of the operation, 120 by the Air Force and 294 by the Navy, and they encountered the heaviest single day of air-to-air combat during the Vietnam War, with 11 North Vietnamese MiGs (four MiG-21s and seven MiG-17s) and two Air Force F-4s shot down. Anti-aircraft artillery and over 100 surface-to-air missile firings also brought down two U.S. Navy aircraft (one of which was flown by aces Duke Cunningham and William P. Driscoll).
By the end of the month, American aircraft had destroyed 13 bridges along the rail lines running from Hanoi to the Chinese border. Another four were destroyed between the capital and Haiphong, including the notorious Thanh Hóa Bridge. Several more bridges were brought down along the rail line leading to the south toward the DMZ. Targets were then switched to petroleum and oil storage and transportation networks and North Vietnamese airfields. There was an immediate impact on the battlefield in South Vietnam. Shelling by PAVN artillery dropped off by one-half between 9 May and 1 June. This slowdown was not due to an immediate shortage of artillery shells, but rather to a desire to conserve ammunition. U.S. intelligence analysts believed that PAVN had enough stockpiled supplies to sustain their campaigns throughout the autumn.
The intensity of the bombing campaign was reflected by the sharp increase in the number of strike and support sorties flown in Southeast Asia as a whole: from 4,237 for all services, including the VNAF, during the month preceding the invasion, to 27,745 flown in support of ARVN forces from the beginning of April to the end of June (20,506 of them flown by the Air Force). B-52s provided an additional 1,000 sorties during the same period. The North was feeling the pressure, admitting in the official PAVN history that "between May and June only 30 percent of supplies called for in our plan actually reached the front-line units." In total, 41,653 Linebacker missions dropped 155,548 tons of bombs.
In addition to interdicting the road and rail system of North Vietnam, Linebacker also systematically attacked its air defense system. The North Vietnamese Air Force, with approximately 200 interceptors, strongly contested these attacks throughout the campaign. Navy pilots, employing a mutually supporting "loose deuce" tactical formation and many with TOPGUN training, enjoyed a kill ratio of 6:1 in their favor in May and June, such that after that the North Vietnamese rarely engaged them thereafter. In contrast, the Air Force experienced a 1:1 kill ratio through the first two months of the campaign, as seven of its eventual 24 Linebacker air-to-air losses occurred without any corresponding North Vietnamese loss in a twelve-day period between 24 June and 5 July. Air Force pilots were hampered by use of the outdated "fluid four" tactical formations (a four-plane, two element formation in which only the leader did the shooting and in which the outside wingmen were vulnerable) dictated by service doctrine. Also contributing to the parity was a lack of air combat training against dissimilar aircraft, a deficient early warning system, and ECM pod formations that mandated strict adherence to formation flying. During August, however, the introduction of real-time early warning systems, increased aircrew combat experience, and degraded North Vietnamese ground control interception capabilities reversed the trend to a more favorable 4:1 kill ratio.
Linebacker saw several other "firsts". On the opening day of the operation, Navy Lieutenant Duke Cunningham and his radar intercept officer, Lieutenant (j.g.) William P. Driscoll became the first U.S. air aces of the Vietnam War when they shot down their fifth MiG. On 28 August, the Air Force gained its first ace when Captain Richard S. Ritchie downed his fifth enemy aircraft. Twelve days later, Captain Charles B. DeBellevue (who had been Ritchie's backseater during four of his five victories) downed two more MiGs, bringing his total to six. On 13 October another weapons officer, Captain Jeffrey S. Feinstein, was credited with his fifth MiG, making him the final Air Force ace.
Although Linebacker was largely carried out by air, naval forces were also deployed to provide counter battery fire against enemy targets along the coast and other important logistical areas and in support of ground troops. One such operation was Operation Lion's Den, or "The Battle of Haiphong Harbor". On 27 August 1972. Vice Admiral James L. Holloway III took with him his ship, the heavy cruiser USS Newport News, the guided missile cruiser USS Providence, and the destroyers USS Robison and USS Rowan conducted a brief night raid against the North Vietnamese forces protecting the port of Haiphong. After the bombardment, the ships were threatened by four Russian-built torpedo boats. Joined by two aircraft from the USS Coral Sea, three of the four torpedo boats were sunk. It was one of the few ship-to-ship naval battles of the war.
The stalled offensive in the South and the devastation in North Vietnam had helped to convince Hanoi to return to the bargaining table by early August. The meetings produced new concessions from Hanoi which promised to end the deadlock that had plagued negotiations since their inception in 1968. Gone were Hanoi's demands for the ouster of South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu and his replacement by a coalition government in which the National Liberation Front would participate. The U.S. on its part agreed to a cease fire in place which conceded that North Vietnamese soldiers could remain in South Vietnam after a peace agreement. The diplomatic impasse was broken and Nixon ordered a halt to all bombing above the 20th parallel on 23 October and on 26 October Kissinger announced that "peace is at hand." This once again placed Hanoi and Haiphong off-limits, and halted Linebacker operations.
Air Force historian Earl Tilford has written that Linebacker was "a watershed in aerial warfare...it was the first modern aerial campaign in which precision guided munitions changed the way in which air power was used." It succeeded, where Rolling Thunder had failed, he claimed, for three reasons: President Nixon was decisive in his actions and gave the military greater latitude in targeting; American airpower was forcefully and appropriately used; and the immense difference in the technology utilized made Linebacker the first bombing campaign in a "new era" of aerial warfare.
During and immediately following the PAVN offensive, U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aviators had flown 18,000 sorties in the four northern provinces of South Vietnam and dropped 40,000 tons of ordnance in the Battle of An Lộc. Between March and May, B-52 sortie rates had climbed from 700 to 2,200 per month and they had dropped 57,000 tons of bombs in Quảng Trị Province alone. During Freedom Train and Linebacker proper, B-52s had dropped 150,237 tons of bombs on the North while Air Force and Navy tactical aircraft had flown 1,216 sorties and dropped another 5,000 tons of ordnance.
From the beginning of Freedom Train in April to the end of June 1972 the United States lost 52 aircraft over North Vietnam: 17 to missiles; 11 to anti-aircraft weapons; three to small arms fire; 14 to MiGs; and seven to unknown causes. During the same time period, the VNAF lost ten aircraft. 63 North Vietnamese aircraft were destroyed during the same time period. North Vietnam claimed that it had shot down 651 aircraft and sunk or set on fire 80 U.S. warships during the operation.
Linebacker had played a crucial role in blunting the northern offensive by drying up its vital sources of supply. PAVN had evolved into a conventional military force, and such a force depended upon a complex logistical system, which made it vulnerable to aerial attack. By September, imports into North Vietnam were estimated at 35 to 50 percent below what they had been in May, bolstering claims that the campaign had been successful in its interdiction effort. Air Force General Robert N. Ginsburgh, of the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, summed up the attitudes of U.S. commanders by remarking that Linebacker had "a greater impact in its first four months of operation than Rolling Thunder had in three and one-half years." Although Henry Kissinger may have announced that peace was at hand, it was not going to come easily. American bombers would once again return to the skies of North Vietnam in 1972 during Operation Linebacker II before the American commitment to the Vietnam War came to an end.
|5 April – 9 May||USAF||4||1||5|
|10 May – 23 October||USAF||30||7||37|
Between 10 May and 23 October 1972, the United States lost a total of 134 aircraft either over the north or as a direct result of Linebacker missions. 104 were lost in combat and 30 were destroyed in operational accidents. Losses by service were:
USAF: – 70 total
USN: – 54 total
USMC: – 10 total
|VF-92||F-4J Phantom II|
|VF-96||F-4J Phantom II|
|VA-146||A-7E Corsair II|
|VA-147||A-7E Corsair II|
|VA-147||A-6A & KA-6D Intruder|
|VF-51||F-4B Phantom II|
|VF-111||F-4B Phantom II|
|VA-22||A-7E Corsair II|
|VA-94||A-7E Corsair II|
|VMA(AW)-224||A-6A & KA-6D Intruder|
|VF-114||F-4J Phantom II|
|VF-213||F-4J Phantom II|
|VA-192||A-7E Corsair II|
|VA-195||A-7E Corsair II|
|VA-52||A-6A & KA-6D Intruder|
|VF-151||F-4B Phantom II|
|VF-161||F-4B Phantom II|
|VA-56||A-7B Corsair II|
|VA-93||A-7B Corsair II|
|VA-115||A-6A & KA-6D Intruder|
|VF-31||F-4J Phantom II|
|VF-103||F-4J Phantom II|
|VA-37||A-7A Corsair II|
|VA-105||A-7A Corsair II|
|VA-75||A-6A & KA-6D Intruder|
|VF-74||F-4J Phantom II|
|VMFA-333||F-4J Phantom II|
|VA-82||A-7C Corsair II|
|VA-86||A-7C Corsair II|
|VA-35||A-6A & KA-6D Intruder|
|VA-153||A-7A Corsair II|
|VA-155||A-7B Corsair II|
|VA-215||A-7B Corsair II|
|Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115||F-4J Phantom II||Deployed from MCAS Iwakuni; 6 April 1972 – 31 August 1973|
|Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212||F-4J Phantom II||Deployed from MCAS Kaneohe Bay; 14 April 1972 – 20 June 1972|
|Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232||F-4J Phantom II||Deployed from MCAS Iwakuni; 6 April 1972 – 1 September 1973|
|Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron 533||A-6A Intruder||Deployed from MCAS Iwakuni; 21 June 1972 – August 1973|
|Marine Attack Squadron 211||A-4E Skyhawk||Deployed from Naha Air Force Base, Okinawa; 17 May 1972 – 30 January 1973|
|Marine Attack Squadron 311||A-4E Skyhawk||Deployed from MCAS Iwakuni; 17 May 1972 – 30 January 1973|
|25th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II|
|433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II|
|435th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II|
|497th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II|
|Constant Guard I|
|334th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Deployed from 4th TFW, Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina; 11 April 1972 – 5 August 1972; 30 September 1972 – 18 March 1973|
|335th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Deployed from 4th TFW, Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina; 6 July 1972 – 22 December 1972|
|336th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Deployed from 4th TFW, Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina; 12 April 1972 – 30 September 1972; 9 March 1973 – 7 September 1973|
|Constant Guard III|
|7th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II||Deployed from Holloman AFB, New Mexico; 13 May 1972 – 27 September 1972|
|8th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II||Deployed from Holloman AFB, New Mexico; 12 May 1972 – 2 October 1972|
|9th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II||Deployed from Holloman AFB, New Mexico; 13 May 1972 – 2 October 1972|
|417th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II||Deployed from Holloman AFB, New Mexico; 10 May 1972 – 30 September 1972|
|1st Special Operations Squadron||A-1 Skyraider|
|21st Special Operations Squadron||CH-53 Sea Stallion|
|4th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Transferred to Takhli RTAFB, Thailand; 27 June 1972|
|390th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II||Transferred to the 347th TFW, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; 14 June 1972|
|421st Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Transferred to Takhli RTAFB, Thailand; 27 June 1972|
|Constant Guard I|
|35th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II||Deployed from 3rd TFW, Kunsan AB, Korea; 3 April – 12 Jun 1972; Deployed to Korat RTAFB, Thailand, 13 June – 12 Oct 1972|
|34th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II|
|469th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Inactivated 31 October 1972|
|17th Wild Weasel Squadron||F-105G Thunderchief|
|Constant Guard I|
|561st Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-105G Thunderchief||Deployed from 23rd TFW, McConnell AFB, Kansas; 11 April 1972 – 27 January 1973|
|13th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II|
|14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron||RF-4C Phantom II|
|555th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4D Phantom II|
|523rd Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Deployed from 405th TFW, Clark AB, Philippines; 8 February – 24 October 1972|
|Constant Guard II|
|308th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Deployed from 31st TFW, Homestead AFB, Florida; 28 April – 29 July 1972|
|58th Tactical Fighter Squadron||F-4E Phantom II||Deployed from 33d TFW, Eglin AFB, Florida; 29 April – 18 Oct 1972|
|60th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)||B-52D Stratofortress|
|63rd Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)||B-52D Stratofortress|
|64th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)||B-52G Stratofortress|
|65th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)||B-52G Stratofortress|
|329th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)||B-52G Stratofortress|
|486th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)||B-52G Stratofortress|
|364th Bombardment Squadron||B-52D Stratofortress|
|365th Bombardment Squadron||B-52D Stratofortress|
Published government documents
The B-52 Victory Museum, Hanoi or Bảo Tàng Chiến Thắng B.52 is located at 157 Đội Cấn, Ba Đình district, Hanoi.
The museum comprises one main building with displays on the history of the Vietnamese revolution, the First Indochina War, the Vietnam War, Operations Rolling Thunder, Linebacker and Linebacker II and the air defense of Hanoi. The outdoor displays include the wreckage of a B-52D or G Stratofortress apparently shot down during Operation Linebacker II (although no specific details are provided) and various air defense equipment.
The museum is open Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday from 08:00 to 11:30 and 13:00 to 16:30. Entry is free.
The Museum is located approximately 300m south of the "B-52 lake", Hồ B-52 or Huu Tiep Lake which appears to contain part of the undercarriage section of the B-52 at the Museum. A plaque at the lake states that the aircraft was a B-52G shot down by a Surface-to-air missile (SAM) fired by the 72nd Battalion, 285th Air Defence Missile Regiment on 27 December 1972, however the only B-52s lost that day were two B-52Ds.Bach Mai Airfield
Bach Mai Airfield (Vietnamese: Sân bay Bach Mai) is a disused military airport in Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi, Vietnam, located along modern-day Le Trong Tan street. It was constructed by the French in 1917 and used by French forces until 1954; along with Gia Lam Airbase, it was one of the major logistics bases supporting French operations at Dien Bien Phu. After 1954, it was used by the Vietnamese People's Air Force and served as their air defense command and control center during the Second Indochina War, playing a part in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War as well. It is now the site of the Vietnam People's Air Force Museum, where a number of period military aircraft are on display.Bombing of Vietnam's dikes
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff considered and rejected some additions to strategic bombing campaigns that would include targeting a series of dikes and dams along Vietnam's Red River delta. A classified 1965 USAF report suggested that the Red River flood control system could probably not be destroyed by conventional aerial bombing.In 1966, John McNaughton, Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, proposed the destruction of the Red River Valley dams and dikes in order to flood rice paddies, disrupt the North Vietnamese food supply, and leverage Hanoi during negotiations; then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, however, rejected the idea.President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discussed bombing the dike network in a 1972 conversation on Operation Linebacker II, later published by Daniel Ellsberg:
Nixon: We've got to quit thinking in terms of a three-day strike [in the Hanoi-Haiphong area]. We've got to be thinking in terms of an all-out bombing attack - which will continue until they - Now by all-out bombing attack, I am thinking about things that go far beyond. I'm thinking of the dikes, I'm thinking of the railroad, I'm thinking, of course, the docks.
Kissinger: I agree with you.
President Nixon: We've got to use massive force.Two hours later at noon, H. R. Haldeman and Ron Ziegler joined Kissinger and Nixon:
President: How many did we kill in Laos?
Ziegler: Maybe ten thousand - fifteen?
Kissinger: In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen.
President: See, the attack in the North that we have in mind, power plants, whatever's left - POL [petroleum], the docks. And, I still think we ought to take the dikes out now. Will that drown people?
Kissinger: About two hundred thousand people.
President: No, no, no, I'd rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?
Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.
President: The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?...I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.
The dike and dam system on the Red River had been expanded steadily since independence was declared and by 1972 consisted of nearly 2500 miles of dikes, levees, dams and sluices. Heavy monsoon rains coupled with the preoccupation of the civilian population that normally maintained the water works, led to extensive flooding in 1971. In an attempt to garner international opposition against the newest U.S. strategic bombing campaign, Rolling Thunder, the North Vietnamese Government began a propaganda campaign using images of the flood to allege that the U.S. had begun a strategic bombing campaign against the Red River dikes. Given the North Vietnamese tactic of forcing U.S. aircraft to jettison their bombloads and abort their missions, the dikes undoubtedly were their point of impact on occasion, as well they may have been for some downed U.S. aircraft.U.S. investigation into the North Vietnamese claims revealed that U.S. bombing had caused minor damage to the dikes but none of the damaged structures were part of the system protecting Hanoi, and none of the damage was severe enough to cause a major breach. Further complicating matters was the North Vietnamese placement of anti-aircraft radars, surface to air missiles, and artillery atop dike structures. The dike system was also part of the North Vietnamese transportation network, with roads and rail lines in close proximity to the dikes. Although authorization was given during Operation Linebacker II to attack these sites, only the use of napalm, cluster bombs, and other antipersonnel weapons were permitted to be used in an attempt to minimize structural damage.The North Vietnamese used these incidents as part of their propaganda campaign. Actress Jane Fonda is often credited with helping publicize the bombing, for which then U.S. Ambassador to the UN George H. W. Bush accused her of lying. Columnist Joseph Kraft who was also touring North Vietnam, believed that the damage to the dikes was done in error and was being used as propaganda by Hanoi, and that if the U.S. Air Force were "truly going after the dikes, it would do so in a methodical, not a harum-scarum way." Others, like Jean Thoraval of Agence France-Presse, reported personally witnessing a U.S. bombing raid where a dozen planes had dropped bombs and fired rockets on a nearby dike, concluding that "the attack was aimed at a whole system of dikes." Sweden's Ambassador to Hanoi, Jean-Christophe Öberg, along with two Swedish journalists, described the damage to the dikes as "methodic."In an investigation into the bombing of the dikes carried out by a French geographer, Yves Lacoste, concluded that the bombing was based on a systematic policy to flood the eastern part of the delta. This area was targeted more than the western part which had more military targets (for instance, Hanoi). The overwhelming majority of dike bombing also occurred on the concave sections of dike, the most vulnerable to such bombing. The effects of the bombing were profound, as 'minor damage' actually severely weakened the dike structure through sub-surface cracking, which increased vulnerability during periods of high discharge.Easter Offensive
The Easter Offensive, officially known as The 1972 Spring - Summer Offensive (Vietnamese: Chiến dịch Xuân Hè 1972) by North Vietnam, or Red fiery summer (Vietnamese: Mùa hè đỏ lửa) as romanticized in South Vietnamese literature, was a military campaign conducted by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN, the regular army of North Vietnam) against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN, the regular army of South Vietnam) and the United States military between 30 March and 22 October 1972, during the Vietnam War. This conventional invasion (the largest offensive operation since 300,000 Chinese troops had crossed the Yalu River into North Korea during the Korean War) 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 simultaneously, with the bulk of the North Vietnamese army. This first attempt by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North 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 similarly 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; May became a period of equilibrium; in June and July the South Vietnamese forces counter-attacked, culminating in the recapture of Quảng Trị City in September. 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.Eleven Days War
The following major military operations have sometimes been unofficially referred as Eleven Days War or Eleven Day War:
Operation Faustschlag, a 1918 Central Powers offensive against Soviet Russia during World War I
Operation Linebacker II, a 1972 United States bombing campaign against North Vietnam during Vietnam War.Linebacker (disambiguation)
A linebacker is a position in American football.
Linebacker may also refer to:
Operation Linebacker, a U.S. military campaign conducted against North Vietnam
Operation Linebacker II, a U.S. military campaign conducted against North Vietnam
Operation Phantom Linebacker, a coalition military operation in Iraq
M6 Linebacker, a fighting vehicleList of United States servicemembers and civilians missing in action during the Vietnam War (1972–75)
This article is a list of US MIAs of the Vietnam War in the period from 1972–75. No servicemembers or civilians were lost in 1974. In 1973, the United States listed 2,646 Americans as unaccounted for from the entire Vietnam War. By August 2017, 1604 Americans remained unaccounted for, of which 1026 were classified as further pursuit, 488 as no further pursuit and 90 as deferred.Operation Linebacker II
Operation Linebacker II was a US Seventh Air Force and US Navy Task Force 77 aerial bombing campaign, conducted against targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) during the final period of US involvement in the Vietnam War. The operation was conducted from 18 to 29 December 1972, leading to several informal names such as "The December Raids" and "The Christmas Bombings". Unlike the Operation Rolling Thunder and Operation Linebacker interdiction operations, Linebacker II was to be a "maximum effort" bombing campaign to "destroy major target complexes in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas, which could only be accomplished by B-52s". It saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the US Air Force since the end of World War II. Linebacker II was a modified extension of the Operation Linebacker bombings conducted from May to October, when the emphasis of the new campaign shifted to attacks by B-52s rather than smaller tactical fighter aircraft.Roger Locher
Roger Clinton Locher (born September 13, 1946) is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Air Force and a former McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II Navigator/Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) and subsequent Pilot who, during the Vietnam War and Operation Linebacker, was shot down only 40 miles (64 km) from Hanoi, North Vietnam. The 23 days Locher spent behind enemy lines evading capture was a record for downed airmen during the war. USAF General Vogt "shut down the war" and sent 119 aircraft to recover him. His rescue was the deepest inside North Vietnam during the entire War.
When his aircraft, F-4D, AF Ser. No. 65-0784, was shot down by a Shenyang J-6 on May 10, 1972, Locher was on his third combat tour and had over 407 combat missions. He was one of the leading MiG killers in Vietnam with three aerial victories. No one saw him eject or his parachute open, and it was unknown whether he had died or been captured. Over the next two weeks, U.S. air crews in the area tried to raise him on UHF radio without success. The North Vietnamese did not add his name to the roster of captured airmen, which gave the Americans some hope. Traveling only at dusk and dawn, over three weeks Locher traveled about 12 miles (19 km), evading farmers and living off the land.
On June 1, Locher was finally able to successfully contact a flight of F-4 aircraft overhead. General John Vogt, commanding general of the Seventh Air Force, committed to rescue him and canceled the scheduled attack on Hanoi that day, diverting all of the available aircraft to assist in his rescue. Despite the proximity of the Yên Bái Air Base only 5 miles (8.0 km) away and its well-developed anti-aircraft defenses, there were no U.S. losses during his rescue.Role of the United States in the Vietnam War
The role of the United States in the Vietnam War began after World War II and escalated into full commitment during the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1973. The U.S. involvement in South Vietnam stemmed from 20 long years of political and economic action. These had the common incentive of ending the growing communist domination in Vietnam. At the time, French forces, allies of the U.S., were backed by America — President Harry S. Truman provided progressively increasing amounts of financial and military assistance to French forces fighting in Vietnam. From the spring of 1950, their involvement increased from just assisting French troops to providing direct military assistance to the associated states (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia). Eventually, U.S. missions were carried out at a more constant rate by sending out increasing number of military assistance from the United States. Their main intent was to restrict the Communist domination that was present in the government of Vietnam as it would soon lead to a chain of neighbouring countries adopting the same. This would have resulted in a change in balance of power throughout Southeast Asia. The U.S. foreign policy establishment saw national security interests being disturbed due to the rise of this communist expansion and strived to take any measure to end it. Their actions came to be questioned by other segments of government and society, however, including the US congress..
Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3,812,000. The conflict also resulted in 58,318 US soldiers dead.Strategic Air Command
For the current active command, see Air Force Global Strike Command
Strategic Air Command (SAC) was both a United States Department of Defense (DoD) Specified Command and a United States Air Force (USAF) Major Command (MAJCOM), responsible for Cold War command and control of two of the three components of the U.S. military's strategic nuclear strike forces, the so-called "nuclear triad," with SAC having control of land-based strategic bomber aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs (the third leg of the triad being submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) of the U.S. Navy).
SAC also operated all strategic reconnaissance aircraft, all strategic airborne command post aircraft, and all USAF aerial refueling aircraft, to include those in the Air Force Reserve (AFRES) and Air National Guard (ANG).
However, SAC did not operate the KB-50, WB-50 and WB-47 weather reconnaissance aircraft operated through the mid and late 1960s by the Air Weather Service, nor did SAC operate the HC-130 or MC-130 operations aircraft capable of aerial refueling helicopters that were assigned to Tactical Air Command (TAC), then Military Airlift Command (MAC), and from 1990 onward, those MC-130 aircraft operated by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), or any AFRES (now Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)) or ANG tactical aerial refueling aircraft (e.g., HC-130, MC-130) operationally gained by TAC, MAC or AFSOC.
SAC primarily consisted of the Second Air Force (2AF), Eighth Air Force (8AF) and the Fifteenth Air Force (15AF), while SAC headquarters (HQ SAC) included Directorates for Operations & Plans, Intelligence, Command & Control, Maintenance, Training, Communications, and Personnel. At a lower echelon, SAC headquarters divisions included Aircraft Engineering, Missile Concept, and Strategic Communications.
In 1992, as part of an overall post-Cold War reorganization of the U.S. Air Force, SAC was disestablished as both a Specified Command and as a MAJCOM, and its personnel and equipment redistributed among the Air Combat Command (ACC), Air Mobility Command (AMC), Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), and Air Education and Training Command (AETC), while SAC's central headquarters complex at Offutt AFB, Nebraska was concurrently transferred to the newly created United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), which was established as a joint Unified Combatant Command to replace SAC's Specified Command role.
In 2009, SAC's previous USAF MAJCOM role was reactivated and redesignated as the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), with AFGSC eventually acquiring claimancy and control of all USAF bomber aircraft and the USAF strategic ICBM force.U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield
U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield is a military airfield of the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) approximately 140 kilometres (87 mi) southeast of Bangkok in the Ban Chang District of Rayong Province near Sattahip on the Gulf of Thailand. It is serves as the home of the RTN First Air Wing.USS Flint (AE-32)
USS Flint (AE-32/T-AE-32) is a Kilauea-class ammunition ship of the United States Navy, and was named after the sparking rock flint (not, as is commonly thought, the city of Flint, Michigan). Flint was constructed at the Ingalls Nuclear Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi. The ship was delivered to the United States Navy at Charleston, South Carolina, on 30 August 1971.USS Lawrence (DDG-4)
USS Lawrence (DDG-4), the fifth ship named for Captain James Lawrence USN (1781–1813), was a Charles F. Adams class guided missile armed destroyer in the United States Navy.
Lawrence was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden in New Jersey on 27 October 1958, launched on 27 February 1960 by Mrs. Fernie C. Hubbard, great-great-granddaughter of Captain James Lawrence and commissioned on 6 January 1962, Comdr. Thomas W. Walsh in command. Lawrence served on blockade duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.
After a shakedown cruise on the Great Lakes, Lawrence proceeded to Naval Station Norfolk for duty in the Atlantic Fleet. Following the rapid development of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, the warship deployed with Task Group 136.1, a surface quarantine group of cruisers USS Canberra (CAG-2), USS Newport News (CA-148), three guided-missile destroyers including Lawrence and twelve escorts. The group took up a blocking position north of Cuba on 24 October, two days into the crisis. On Friday the 26, Lawrence and MacDonough (DLG-8) began shadowing Grozny, a tanker proceeding towards Cuba. The next day, the Soviet Union agreed to defuse the crisis and military forces on both sides began standing down.
After returning to Norfolk on 6 December 1962, Lawrence began the first of many Mediterranean cruises on 6 February 1963, steaming across the Atlantic to join the Sixth Fleet for operations in European waters, where she remained until 1 July. Following a second Mediterranean deployment between April and August 1964, the warship received an extensive overhaul in Norfolk over the ensuing winter. Before the end of the decade she conducted four more cruises; a Sixth Fleet deployment in 1965 (24 August to 17 December), a NATO exercise in the North Atlantic in 1966 (3 August to 5 September), another Mediterranean tour in 1966-67 (27 September to 1 February) and a third Sixth Fleet cruise in 1968 (10 January to 4 May). During her fourth Mediterranean deployment, Lawrence helped rescue crewmen from the sinking merchant vessel New Meadow, in distress off the coast of Crete.
Following two additional Mediterranean deployments, one in 1969-70 and another in 1971, the much-traveled destroyer made one Vietnam War tour in the Western Pacific in 1972-73, providing naval gunfire support, dodging enemy return fire, rescuing downed Aviators and serving as plane guard during aircraft carrier operations. Among her guests on Yankee Station were the CNO and Sec NAV. For her service, she was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation, as follows:
The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in presenting the Meritorious Unit Commendation to
USS LAWRENCE (DDG-4)
For meritorious service during operations against enemy forces in Southeast Asia from 7 August 1972 to 10 January 1973. Upon assignment to the US SEVENTH Fleet in support of United States objectives in Southeast Asia, USS LAWRENCE consistently displayed a high degree of professionalism and resourcefulness while carrying out arduous combat support missions along the coast of the Republic of Vietnam and 116 high speed strike missions against North Vietnam. During this period, USS LAWRENCE damaged or destroyed significant enemy fortifications and logistic support facilities. The sustained high level of personnel and material readiness achieved by LAWRENCE enabled her to respond instantly to every commitment ranging from pilot rescue to emergency naval gunfire support. By the exemplary performance of duty throughout this period, the officers and men of the USS LAWRENCE reflected great credit upon themselves and the United States Naval Service.
John W. Warner
Secretary of the Navy
As the U.S.S. Lawrence came through the locks in the Panama canal her sister ship was sabotaged by a crewman that dropped a large wrench into the main reduction gear shaft causing her to be towed to San Diego for repairs while the Lawrence sailed on to Nam and engaged in "Operation Linebacker". She and served with pride due leadership and a willing crew. . At the time, she was affectionately known as the "leapin Larry" by her crew. Two more Sixth Fleet cruises followed in 1977-78 and 1979, and during the latter she briefly visited the Black Sea. Lawrence circumnavigated Africa en route to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, deployment that took place in 1974-1975. Lawrence passed through the Mediterranean en route to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, deployments that took place in 1980 and 1983-84.
Lawrence also saw frequent service closer to home, in the western Atlantic and Caribbean, and occasionally visited other waters. In 1986 she circumnavigated around South America as part of Operation Unitas XVII, exercising with Latin American navies and visiting ports in Puerto Rico, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. During that deployment she served as the flagship for Destroyer Squadron 26.
Lawrence was decommissioned on 30 March 1990, stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 May 1990, and sold for scrap on 15 April 1994. The scrap contract was terminated on 1 October 1996 and resold on 10 February 1999.Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base
Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base is a Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) facility located near the city of Ubon Ratchathani, in Ubon Ratchathani Province. It is approximately 488 km (303 miles) northeast of Bangkok. The Laos border is about 60 kilometers (40 miles) directly east. The facility is also used as a civil airport.
Ubon RTAFB is the home of Wing 21 of the RTAF 2nd Air Division. The RTAF 211 Squadron Eagles fly the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighter aircraft from Ubon.VFA-105
Strike Fighter Squadron 105 (VFA-105) also known as the "Gunslingers" is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The "Gunslingers" are an operational fleet squadron and fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Their radio callsign is "Canyon" and the tail code is AC.VFA-97
Strike Fighter Squadron 97 (VFA-97), also known as the "Warhawks", are a United States Navy F/A-18E squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore. Their tail code of "NH" and their radio callsign is Warhawk.
The squadron was originally established as Attack Squadron 97 (VA-97) on 1 June 1967 and redesignated VFA-97 on 24 January 1991.Vietnam People's Air Force
The Vietnam People's Air Force (Vietnamese: Không quân Nhân dân Việt Nam) is the air force of Vietnam. It is the successor of the former North Vietnamese Air Force and absorbed the Republic of Vietnam Air Force following the re-unification of Vietnam in 1975. The Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) is one of three main branches in the Vietnam People's Army which is a part of the Ministry of Defence. The main mission of the VPAF is the defence of Vietnamese airspace and the provision of air cover for operations of the People's Army of Vietnam.Vietnamization
Vietnamization was a policy of the Richard Nixon administration to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War through a program to "expand, equip, and train South Vietnamese forces and assign to them an ever-increasing combat role, at the same time steadily reducing the number of U.S. combat troops." Brought on by the Viet Cong's Tet Offensive, the policy referred to U.S. combat troops specifically in the ground combat role, but did not reject combat by the U.S. Air Force, as well as the support to South Vietnam, consistent with the policies of U.S. foreign military assistance organizations. U.S. citizens' mistrust of their government that had begun after the offensive worsened with the release of news about U.S. soldiers massacring civilians at My Lai (1968), the invasion of Cambodia (1970), and the leaking of the Pentagon Papers (1971).
The name "Vietnamization" came about accidentally. At a January 28, 1969, meeting of the National Security Council, General Andrew Goodpaster, deputy to General Creighton Abrams and commander of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, stated that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) had been steadily improving, and the point at which the war could be "de-Americanized" was close. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird agreed with the point, but not with the language: "What we need is a term like 'Vietnamizing' to put the emphasis on the right issues." Nixon immediately liked Laird's word.Vietnamization fit into the broader détente policy of the Nixon administration, in which the United States no longer regarded its fundamental strategy as the containment of communism but as a cooperative world order, in which Nixon and his chief adviser Henry Kissinger were focused on the broader constellation of forces and the bigger world powers. Nixon had ordered Kissinger to negotiate diplomatic policies with Soviet statesman Anatoly Dobrynin. Nixon also opened high-level contact with China. U.S. relations with the Soviet Union and China were of higher priority than South Vietnam.
Nixon said Vietnamization had two components. The first was "strengthening the armed force of the South Vietnamese in numbers, equipment, leadership and combat skills", while the second was "the extension of the pacification program [i.e. military aid to civilians] in South Vietnam." To achieve the first goal, U.S. helicopters would fly in support; however, helicopter operations were too much part of ground operations to involve U.S. personnel. Thus, ARVN candidates were enrolled in U.S. helicopter schools to take over the operations. As observed by Lieutenant General Dave Palmer, to qualify an ARVN candidate for U.S. helicopter school, he first needed to learn English; this, in addition to the months-long training and practice in the field, made adding new capabilities to the ARVN take at least two years. Palmer did not disagree that the first component, given time and resources, was achievable. However: "Pacification, the second component, presented the real challenge...it was benevolent government action in areas where the government should always have been benevolently active...doing both was necessary if Vietnamization were to work."
The policy of Vietnamization, despite its successful execution, was ultimately a failure as the improved ARVN forces and the reduced American and allied component were unable to prevent the fall of Saigon and the subsequent merger of the north and south, to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Easter Offensive (1972)
Post-Paris Peace Accords (1973–1974)