Posted by Jack Heslin on 17:20:47 06/06/23
We have seen this before.
Fifty-one years ago, in the spring of 1972, the largest battle of the Vietnam War with Americans involved took place. It was a huge offensive, with hundreds of thousands of troops involved, South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese, and a small number of Americans who served as advisors to the South Vietnamese military along with American pilots of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. The offensive, known in the West as the Easter Offensive, officially started on March 30th, 1972, and ended in mid-June. It was an offensive that had been coming for years but still shocked many when tens of thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers with tanks, artillery, and antiaircraft guns streamed into South Vietnam in a three-pronged invasion. It was an attack designed to capture large areas of South Vietnam and to break the South Vietnamese government.
Because of the unpopularity of the Vietnam War, many have not studied the history of it. The popular narrative of the war has mostly gone unchallenged until now as revisionist historians, like Mark Moyar, have been publishing excellent books that take a new look at an old story.
As we look at the Ukraine conflict and watch the long-awaited Ukraine counter offensive unfold, we can see many similarities between this offensive and the Vietnam Easter Offensive of 1972. The comparison made here is that Russia, working with the militias of the Donbas Region, are defending territory that is being attacked by Ukraine forces. In this comparison, Russian forces are defending the people of the Donbas Region after the failure of the Minsk Agreements, and Ukraine forces are being supported by the Western powers of NATO. In this comparison, Russia is playing the role America did as it tried to defend the independence of South Vietnam, and the Western powers, through their extensive financial and military support of the Ukraine government, are playing the role that the Soviet Union and China did in their support of North Vietnam.
In 1972, the large North Vietnamese formations conducted their assaults without the benefit of air support. In fact, it was the massive air support provided by American air assets that was the key to the South Vietnamese being able to successfully defend their country. The South Vietnamese suffered heavy losses, but the North Vietnamese suffered much larger losses and were not able to achieve any of their military or political objectives.
It is likely that the Ukraine Counter Offensive will suffer the same fate as the North Vietnamese did in 1972 and probably for the same reason: their total lack of air support against Russian defenders who have a huge advantage in combat aircraft over the battlefield. In addition, Ukraine s lack of the necessary antiaircraft weapon systems to counter the air threat will result in devastating losses for the Ukraine military just as it did to the North Vietnamese forces.
In 1972, when many North Vietnamese soldiers were captured, there was surprise at how young and obviously inexperienced they were. I am sure there will be many very young, and inexperienced Ukraine fighters who will not be able to push through the intense fire they will be facing during this offensive.
How long will this offensive last before it plays out? One can only speculate, but it is likely to be no more than a couple of months which is what happened in 1972. After the terrible bloodletting is done, the politicians will want to talk. Yes, it is Déjà vu.
If any would like to review the story of the Easter Offensive and especially the Battle of Kontum they can visit The Battle of Kontum Home