The Lightning Counter-Offensive at Đức Huệ Base
Tran Quang Khoi
         1. General Situation in the III Corps Tactical Zone ( III CTZ)
         After the Paris Peace Agreement was signed on 23 January 1973, the U.S. began the final withdrawal of its troops. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in III CTZ, consisting of three infantry divisions - NVA 5th, NVA 7th, and NVA 9th - and several sapper units hidden in Cambodia, seized the opportunity to repeatedly harass and attack ARVN border outposts along the Vietnam - Cambodia border in Hậu Nghĩa, Tây Ninh, Bình Long, and Phước Long Provinces. III Corps under the command of LTG Nguyễn Văn Minh consisting of three infantry divisions - ARVN 5th, ARVN 18th, and ARVN 25th - and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Brigade supported by 46th Artillery Battalion (155 m/m towed), 61st Artillery Battalion (105 m/m towed), and 30th Engineer Group, had to disperse its force throughout the entire III CTZ to fill the gap left by the US 2nd Field Force. It also had to counter the new Communist tactic "Dành Dân Lấn Đất" (encroaching on enemy's land and controlling its people) after the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement.

         LTG Minh's main mistakes were to disband III Corps Assault Force (III CAF) and to disperse 3rd Armored Cavalry Brigade which was used in a piecemeal fashion after I left III Corps for advanced military education in the US in 1972. Therefore, III Corps became extremely weak and lost its mobility. As a result, Lộc Ninh District of Bình Long Province and the border outposts of Tây Ninh Province were gradually lost to the enemy.

         In July 1973, I returned home. LTG Phạm Quốc Thuận replaced LTG Minh as the new III Corps commander. Having heard of my military successes when I had commanded TF318 and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Brigade during the Cambodian Campaign in 1970 - 1971, LTG Thuận asked me to work for him. I accepted his offer and resumed command of 3rd Armored Cavalry Brigade in Biên Hòa on 7 November 1973.

        Please read the rest in Forum 7: FACES OF THE WAR.
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