Operations Enhance and Enhance Plus

Operations Enhance and Enhance Plus in the Vietnam War transferred large quantities of United States military equipment and bases to the South Vietnamese government in advance of the Paris Peace Accords which ended American involvement in the war. The two operations were conducted between May and December 1972.

Operation Enhance

In late March 1972, communist North Vietnam launched what is called by the United States the Easter Offensive against South Vietnam. The communist objective was to weaken the South Vietnamese armed forces, capture additional South Vietnamese territory, and weaken American resolve to continue to assist South Vietnam. The Eastern Offensive was carried out in the context that North Vietnam was negotiating a peace agreement with the United States and wished to strengthen its position in South Vietnam prior to completing the agreement.[1]

The Easter Offensive put the military forces of South Vietnam under intense pressure. After the fall of the provincial capital of Quang Tri and the capability of the South Vietnamese to stave off North Vietnam in doubt, U.S. President Richard Nixon on 17 May directed that a maximum of U.S. equipment and material be given to South Vietnam as quickly as possible. On 19 May, Nixon approved a list of equipment to be provided to South Vietnam by 1 August and Project Enhance began. Nixon also wanted to build up South Vietnamese military equipment so that, if the anticipated peace agreement declared a moratorium on introducing new military equipment, South Vietnam would have adequate supplies.[2]

Operation Enhance provided South Vietnamese armed forces with artillery and anti-tank weapons, 69 helicopters, 55 jet fighters, 100 other aircraft, and 7 patrol boats.[3] The equipment provided to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) included 2 air defense artillery battalions, 3 175mm artillery battalions, 2 M48A3 tank battalions and 141 TOW missile launchers.[4]:511

Operation Enhance Plus

On 20 October 1972 President Nixon ordered additional U.S. military equipment to be delivered to South Vietnam. Nixon anticipated that a peace agreement would be concluded shortly and that the agreement would ban an expansion of military aid to South Vietnam and permit only a one-for-one replacement of military equipment. He wanted the South Vietnamese to have a maximum of equipment on hand before the restrictions in the peace agreement took place. The last shipment of equipment arrived on 12 December and the peace agreement was not concluded until 27 January 1973.[5]

The equipment transfers to South Vietnam were enormous consisting of 234 F-5A and A-37 jet fighter planes, 32 C-130 transport planes, 277 UH-1H helicopters, 72 tanks, 117 armored personnel carriers, artillery and 1,726 trucks.[4]:512 The cost of the equipment was about $750 million 9 ($5.7 billion in 2015 dollars). Moreover, most of the U.S. supplied equipment of two departing South Korean divisions (approximately 38,000 men) was also given to South Vietnam. In addition, the U.S. transferred title of its military bases in South Vietnam and all the equipment on the bases to South Vietnam.[6]


As a result of Operations Enhance and Enhance Plus South Vietnam at the end of 1972 had the fourth largest air force in the world. However, the ability of the South Vietnamese to use all this equipment and to maintain it was much in doubt. An adviser to President Nguyen Van Thieu said that the operations had political value as a sign that the U.S. would not abandon South Vietnam/"[7]

The Paris Peace Accords, signed by all parties to the war on 27 January 1973 prohibited replacement of military equipment in South Vietnam except on a one-for-one basis and ended large transfers of military equipment from the United States. The agreement also required the withdrawal of nearly all U.S. military personnel although the US would retain several thousand civilian advisers in South Vietnam.[8]


  1. ^ Andrade, Dale (1995), Trial by Fire, New York: Hippocrene Books, p. 43
  2. ^ Webb, William J. and Poole, Walter S. (2007), The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the War in Vietnam 1971-1973, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pp 213-215
  3. ^ Isaacs, Arnold R. (1983), Without Honor: Defeat in Vietnam and Cambodia, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 511
  4. ^ a b "CINCPAC Command History 1973". Retrieved 12 May 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Hartsook, Elizabeth and Slade, Stuart (2013), Air War Vietnam Plans and Operations 1969-1975, Newtown, CT: Defense Lions Publications, p. 325; Webb and Poole, pp. 220-222
  6. ^ Isaacs, pp. 48-49, 511
  7. ^ Lipsman, Samuel and Weiss, Stephen (1984), The False Peace,;; Boston: Boston Publishing Company, p 18; Isaacs, pp. 48-49
  8. ^ Webb and Poole, p. 228
Army of the Republic of Vietnam

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN; Vietnamese: Lục quân Việt Nam Cộng hòa), were the ground forces of the South Vietnamese military from its inception in 1955 until the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. It is estimated to have suffered 1,394,000 casualties (killed and wounded) during the Vietnam War.The ARVN began as a post-colonial army trained and closely affiliated with the United States and had engaged in conflict since its inception. Several dramatic changes occurred throughout its lifetime, initially from a 'blocking-force' to a more modern conventional force using helicopter deployment in combat. During the U.S. intervention, the role of the ARVN was marginalised to a defensive role with an incomplete modernisation, and transformed again most notably following Vietnamization as it was up-geared, expanded and reconstructed to fulfil the role of the departing U.S. forces. By 1974, it had become much more effective with foremost counterinsurgency expert and Nixon adviser Robert Thompson noting that Regular Forces were very well-trained and second only to U.S. and IDF forces in the free world and with General Creighton Abrams remarking that 70% of units were on par with the U.S. Army. However, the withdrawal of American forces through Vietnamization meant the armed forces could not effectively fulfil all the aims of the program and had become completely dependent on U.S. equipment, given it was meant to fulfill the departing role of the United States.At its peak, an estimated 1 in 9 citizens of South Vietnam were enlisted and it had become the fourth-largest army in the world composed of Regular Forces and more voluntary Regional Militias and Village-level militias.Unique in serving a dual military-civilian administrative purpose in direct competition with the Viet Cong. The ARVN had in addition became a component of political power and notably suffered from continual issues of political loyalty appointments, corruption in leadership, factional in-fighting and occasional open conflict between itself.After the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the ARVN was dissolved. While some high-ranking officers had fled the country to the United States or elsewhere, thousands of former ARVN officers were sent to reeducation camps by the communist government of the new, unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Five ARVN generals commit suicide to avoid capture by the PAVN/VC.

Paris Peace Accords

The Paris Peace Accords, officially titled the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, was a peace treaty signed on January 27, 1973, to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War. The treaty included the governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and the United States, as well as the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) that represented indigenous South Vietnamese revolutionaries. US ground forces up to that point had been sidelined with deteriorating morale and gradually withdrawn to coastal regions, not partaking in offensive operations or much direct combat for the preceding two-year period. The Paris Agreement Treaty would in effect remove all remaining US Forces, including air and naval forces in exchange for Hanoi's POWs. Direct U.S. military intervention was ended, and fighting between the three remaining powers temporarily stopped for less than a day. The agreement was not ratified by the United States Senate.The negotiations that led to the accord began in 1968, after various lengthy delays. As a result of the accord, the International Control Commission (ICC) was replaced by the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS) to fulfill the agreement. The main negotiators of the agreement were United States National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese politburo member Lê Đức Thọ; the two men were awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts, although Lê Đức Thọ refused to accept it.

The agreement's provisions were immediately frequently broken with no response from the United States. Fighting broke out in March 1973, and North Vietnamese offenses enlarged their control by the end of the year. Two years later, a massive North Vietnamese offensive conquered South Vietnam.

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