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Monday, February 21, 2022, 09:09 (GMT+7)
The art of creating and seizing opportunities during Hue – Da Nang Campaign of 1975

Our Hue – Da Nang offensive campaign defeated the strategy of contraction by the Saigon puppet regime’s army (hereafter the Saigon army for short) and revolutionised the war in our favour during the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprising. Victory of the campaign proved our Party Central Committee (PCC) and General Command’s flexible, ingenious direction and operation at campaign level, with the art of creating and seizing opportunities as a feature.

After the signing of the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, in spite of withdrawing all troops from Vietnam, US imperialists stubbornly provided assistance for the Saigon puppet regime, with a view to breaking the peace agreement via the strategy of “encroachment and pacification.” Despite comprehensive support from the U.S., the Saigon army fell into a decline in military, political, and psychological terms. Therefore, since mid-1974, they were unable to organise any operation of encroachment; they had to take defensive actions only in the areas attacked by our military. Predicting that in 1975, the Liberation Army would launch a large-scale offensive campaign to take control over Quang Tri, isolate Hue and Da Nang, and attack Kon Tum to put pressure on Pleiku, in August 1974, the Saigon puppet government approved Ly Thuong Kiet Plan to respond to our military, continue removing “leopard spots,” and maintain their conquered regions. They believed that the best project was to concentrate their strength to hold Da Nang and possibly Hue; if it couldn’t work, they would select Chu Lai (Quang Nam province) as their forward base or retreat to their defensive position in Tuy Hoa (Phu Yen province). Hence, they adjusted their force disposition under a new defensive strategy.

In response to the robust development of our position and force on the South battlefield, our Politburo held a meeting and issued a historical resolution. According to that document, we would “liberate the South in 1975 and 1976, and if the time comes in early or late 1975, the South will be immediately liberated within 1975.” Under the Politburo’s resolution, our General Command launched the Spring General Offensive and Uprising of 1975 with a series of campaigns, operational activities, and the people’s widespread uprisings. At that time, Central Highlands Campaign, Hue – Da Nang Campaign, and Ho Chi Minh Campaign played a decisive role in completely liberating the South and unifying the country. Hue – Da Nang Campaign was constituted by two medium-scale campaigns by Tri – Thien Military Region and Army Corps 2 and Military Region 5. The Campaign disbanded a powerful defensive group of the Saigon army in the Central Coast, disrupted the enemy’s plot of strategic contraction, and revolutionised the war in our favour. Victory of the Campaign demonstrated our PCC and General Command’s vision and flexible, ingenious direction and operation at campaign level as follows.

1. The art of creating opportunities

Tri – Thien and Military Region 5 held a position of strategic importance as it was the place where the enemy and our military confronted each other. Once controlling Tri – Thien and Military Region 5, we could destroy the enemy’s defensive system and pin the Saigon army’s strategic mobile force down to make a positive change in the balance of power on the battlefield. Hence, our Politburo, Central Military Commission, and General Command decided to select this region as an important direction for coordination in the strategic resolution of 1975, with the task of “basically defeating the enemy’s plot of pacification in Tri – Thien - Hue and creating a new situation of decisive importance to getting prepared for wining victories in 1976 and completely liberating Tri – Thien – Hue.” To that end, the General Command directed Tri – Thien Front to launch a general offensive campaign in the Spring – Summer of 1975 and the Autumn of 1975. With 7 regiments in Tri – Thien and 4 other regiments in Da Nang, the Front Command set the immediate goal of taking control over the whole province of Quang Tri, isolating Hue, and possibly capturing all Tri – Thien – Hue. Right after the launch of Central Highlands Campaign, troops and citizens of Tri – Thien and Military Region 5 enhanced military offensives in both adjacent and plain areas. Offensives organised on both Central Highlands and Tri – Thien fronts simultaneously made the Saigon army fall into confusion and expose a lot of weaknesses. When the Central Highlands fell, they withdrew one parachute division from the Central Coast to Saigon and deployed their frontline force back to Hue and Da Nang. When Hue faced the risk of defeat, they withdrew their troops back to Da Nang. Those moves by the enemy created opportunities for us to liberate Hue and Da Nang without any large-scale battle. It can’t be denied that the decision to attack Tri – Thien – Hue and the Central Highlands at the same time expressed our PCC and General Command’s vision and ability to grasp opportunities in campaign-level direction and operation.

One day after the beginning of Central Highlands Campaign, Spring – Summer Campaign was conducted (March 6th, 1975). Following the General Command’s order, Army Corps 2 secretly deployed its troops from West and North Quang Tri to West and Southwest Hue. Simultaneously, contacts and exercises by Tri – Thien Military Region were still carried out to make the Saigon army confused about our main attacking direction. On March 8th, 1975, Division 324 started attacking Mo Tau base and Southwest Hue’s heights. From the 13th of March to the 15th of March, 1975, Tri Thien Military Region launched a series of battles aimed at the enemy’s fortresses and heights in West Hue. When those battles still raged, the enemy withdrew another parachute division to protect the Special Capital Zone and deployed other forces to defend the Central Coast, particularly in Hue and Da Nang. That move led to awkwardness amongst the enemy’s troops in Tri – Thien – Hue. When the enemy concentrated their strength on Hue and Da Nang for defence, the General Command directed Tri – Thien Front and Army Corps 2 to quickly divide Route 1 in North and South Hue, neutralise Phu Bai Airport, separate Hue from Da Nang, and capture Phu Loc. After Quang Tri province had been liberated (March 19th, 1975), the opportunity for liberating Hue came; when Hue was liberated, the enemy retreated to Da Nang but was halted, which created an opportunity for liberating Da Nang.

2. The art of seizing opportunities

Realising a positive change on the Central battlefield and predicting that the enemy would possibly abandon Hue and retreat to Da Nang for defence, our PCC and General Command directed Tri – Thien Front to seize the opportunity to liberate Hue and Tri – Thien and prevent the enemy from retreating to Da Nang. Under the timely direction from the PCC and the General Command, Army Corps 2 in cooperation with Tri – Thien Military Region organised military offensives combined with the people’s uprisings to completely destroy the enemy’s defensive group in Thua – Thien – Hue and liberate the city of Hue. That victory proved our PCC and General Command’s acumen and assertiveness in seizing opportunities. Such great acumen was more clearly manifested in Da Nang Campaign. Although Front 475 was established to command Da Nang Campaign, Commander and Commissar of the Front had to exchange their ideas via means of communication; in order to take advantage of the opportunity, the General Command directly directed and commanded this important Campaign.

After the liberation of Quang Tri province, realising that the time had come and observing the General Command’s order, on March 20th, 1975, Army Corps 2 and troops and citizens of Tri – Thien simultaneously overcame the enemy’s defensive lines and formed various attacking directions against Hue city. Our flanks rapidly tightened the perimeter, blocked the enemy’s routes of retreat to Thuan An and Tu Hien, and separated Hue from Da Nang. Due to the terrible developments of the situation in Hue, on the night of March 22nd, 1975, the enemy withdrew the majority of their forces to Da Nang. Taking advantage of that opportunity, Army Corps 2 and main units of Tri – Thien Military Region in cooperation with the masses quickly liberated Hue. The liberation of Hue city within a short period of time (from the 21st of March to the 25th of March, 1975) dismayed the enemy in Da Nang and sparked off a crisis amongst them in terms of organisation and morale.

In addition to exercising their direction over Tri – Thien battlefield, our PCC and General Command directed Military Region 5 to make preparations for an offensive to capture Da Nang complex military. On March 24th, 1975, the General Command decided to launch Da Nang Campaign in the “most timely, rapid, daring, surprising” manner. To that end, Army Corps 2 closely cooperated with Military Region 5 in deploying a formation and preparing for attacking Da Nang. When our troops and citizens were making preparations, the General Command required Army Corps 2 and Military Region 5 to adopt measures of special swiftness to attack the enemy and advance towards Da Nang. Following the General Command’s Order, Army Corps 2 together with troops and citizens of Military Region 5 surmounted all difficulties to quickly move forward to Da Nang. Seizing the opportunity, within a short period of time (from the 26th of March to the 29th of March, 1975), our troops and citizens controlled Da Nang without any large-scale battle, gloriously ending our Hue – Da Nang Campaign, defeating the enemy’s strategy of contraction in the Central Coast.

Hue – Da Nang Offensive Campaign changed the balance of power between our military and the enemy during the Spring General Offensive and Uprising of 1975 and contributed to victoriously ending our people’s resistance war against the U.S., for national salvation. Victory of the Campaign proved our Politburo, Central Military Commission, and General Command’s flexible, ingenious direction and operation at campaign level and provided us with a lot of valuable lessons to study, develop, and apply to today’s Homeland construction and protection.

Sr. Col. NGUYEN HONG TRUONG, PhD

Infantry Officer College No.1

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Comrade Vo Chi Cong – A talented leader of our Party and State
Life and career of comrade Vo Chi Cong were closely connected with our Party and people’s glorious historical events in the 20th century. He was a role model as a communist. With his noble qualities, he was an excellent student of President Ho Chi Minh. He expressed his absolute loyalty to our revolution’s goal and ideal, while dedicating himself to our Party and people’s revolutionary cause.