Tuesday, June 20, 1972

Red Tank Losses Heavy

WASHINGTON (AP) --Allied forces have reported destroying between 400 and 500-plus North Vietnamese tanks since the enemy offensive began, Pentagon sources say.

The tally coincides with a sharp dropoff in reported sightings of North Vietnamese tanks operating in the battle sectors and staging areas.

Taken together, these factors could indicated that the North Vietnamese have lost much of the armored power that helped them score important advances in the early stages of the offensive launched in late March.

U.S. analysts estimated several weeks ago that the North Vietnamese army had sent up to 600 Soviet-built tanks into the Indochina fighting.

Meanwhile, day-in, day-out U.S. bombing of North Vietnam's rail lines and U.S. minefields in the entrances of its ports are blocking replacement of armored vehicles from the Soviet Union and Communist China, officials say.

The air-interdiction campaign is destroying stockpiles of gasoline and oil needed to run the tanks, which burn about a gallon a mile. Petroleum supplies are not being replaced from outside North Vietnam, according to current assessments.

There are variations in official estimates of the tanks destroyed. Defense sources acknowledge - the likelihood of some duplication in reports and of some overly bullish claims.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff accept as accurate the U.S. Vietnam command's count of more than 420 North Vietnamese tanks destroyed between March 30 and June 9, the last date covered by the most recent summary.

Another compilation cited in an official military rundown lists better than 530 enemy tanks destroyed in South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Of these, the South Vietnamese army and air force are credited with more than 300 tanks, the U.S. Air Force with about 130.

Reports from the field say that 500-pound bombs have been highly effective in knocking out tanks. Other weapons that have scored well are light antitank rockets used by South Vietnamese infantrymen, according to U.S. military officials.

"Red Tank Losses Heavy", by WASHINGTON, (AP) published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Tuesday, June 20, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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