1972 was, in a sense, the defining year for Vietnam War. It was the year the United States began to see strategic defeat clearly on the horizon, to understand that North Vietnam By military means and this, in fact, their allies in South Vietnam were creaking. A bit like it would happen half a century later in Afghanistan, the enemy was able to combine state planning and guerrilla warfare, bringing war into the enemy camp, generating insecurity in the enemies and keeping the morale of his men high. Almost complete physical superiority did not break it.
Nothing was more evident in the gradual dismantling of US strategy in Vietnam than the massive Christmas attack in December 1972 in which American bombers They attacked targets in North Vietnam with the specific goal of crushing and terrorizing the enemy state and conditioning political moves in Hanoi, at a time when the withdrawal of US ground forces made the collapse of the pro-Western government in Saigon plausible. attack second line back Participating, from December 18 to 29, 1972, a fleet of 207 B-52 bombers and, according to estimates, at least two thousand support aircraft including fighters, support vehicles and tankers.
The maneuver was part of the president’s strategy Richard Nixon Based on Henry KissingerAnd the The White House’s national security adviser, to impose a hand on talks after Hanoi Politburo member Le Duc Tho met with Kissinger in Paris in October, did not get final guarantees on ending the conflict. Essentially, Nixon intended not to make the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam burden President Nguyen Van Thieu, demonstrating that the United States was willing to accelerate the search for a diplomatic solution while demonstrating all the power of the means at hand.
After weeks of stalemate, President Nixon made the radical decision to lift restrictions on the use of the US Air Force’s Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers by expanding against civilian targets and infrastructure in North Vietnam: their scope contemplated: At first especially against the supply routes of the Vietcong fighters. This step was proposed on the initiative of General Alexander Haig, who believed that it was necessary to strike as hard as possible the men of Phu Nguyen Giap To force the expedition of negotiations. Nixon immediately agreed, and Kissinger was also in full support.
at Andersen Base Guam 155 B-52s were so concentrated, that during operations, aircraft had to be kept constantly in flight as in previous years at Diego Garcia, another fifty were stationed in Thailand, mainly at U-Tapao. On December 18 the raids began, with several bombers carrying out missions from Guam capable of lasting up to 18 hours with 13,000 km of flight and supplies of KC-135 Stratotankers securing aircraft departing from Okinawa for this purpose.
The bombers who flew to groups of three To avoid exposure to enemy fire. The first raids hit the airports of Kep, Phuoc Yen and Hua Lac, as well as the city of Hanoi. Power plants, civilian infrastructure, and even many North Vietnamese housing sites were subsequently attacked. Linebacker II set itself military, strategic, and political goals that show the United States is ready to do anything to bring down the enemy.
as pointed out Air Force MagazineUndoubtedly, even in the following days, the B-52s got more results, achieving what can be defined on a tactical level as a series of successes: military airfields were decommissioned, Vietnamese MIGs hit the ground or forced to the ground, closed Most of the supply lines are within North Vietnam, and 80% of the energy infrastructure is demolished. However, there were also 1,600 civilian casualties and a decisive intransigence of a large part of the population toward the United States government. The United States complained that 15 bombers, mostly surface-to-air missiles, had been shot down, and 43 fell.
Beginning on December 22, 1972, the United States government proposed an end to the bombing of North Vietnamese delegates in exchange for the resumption of the peace treaties. On Boxing Day, North Vietnam agreed, and on December 29 the bombing stopped. With 15,000 tons of bombs, Nixon persuaded the Communists to return to the negotiating table, but the acceleration was such that Washington forced the Thiem regime to mediate as well, eager to seize the opportunity for a decisive military victory. Saigon yielded to the will of the United States and in January 1973, a month after the raids ended, he signed the Geneva Accord. For the United States, however, the The strategic defeat was upon us Linebaker II is certified in a sense. American bombers were cHe also visited schools, hospitals, civic villages, aqueducts, factories of basic necessities, common markets, and the view of the world, If it was still needed, how simplistic was the Manichaean rhetoric that motivated the Vietnam War. Moreover, the North Vietnamese regime, though impressed by the losses, maintained its home front and, in fact, strengthened itself by claiming that it managed to keep the defense active throughout the entire operation. Finally, Nixon and Kissinger refused to fully manage the final phase of the conflict in Saigon. The fall of the administration in the aftermath Watergate It paved the way for the Vietcong counteroffensive that led to the fall of Saigon between 1974 and 1975. The US was forced to leave Vietnam without being able to repeat a large-scale offensive after its last cartridges played with B-52 bomber raids. It has been proven that breaking the will of the people to resist only by bombing is not possible. Vietnam was also permanently lost due to the long-term observation of this fact.
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