Academic journal article Military Review

The Battle of an Loc

Academic journal article Military Review

The Battle of an Loc

Article excerpt

THE BATTLE OF AN LOC, James H. Willbanks, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2005, 226 pages, $29.95.

The Battle of An Loc is a wellresearched and solid history of one of the pivotal South Vietnamese and American battlefield victories during the 1972 Easter Offensive. The book is particularly topical because it examines a battle in which the combination of embedded American advisers, American air power, and indigenous Vietnamese forces were effective in defeating numerically superior North Vietnamese formations. James H. Willbanks is uniquely qualified to write such a book-he was among the American advisers at An Loc, he holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Kansas, and he is on the faculty at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Because the South Vietnamese won this battle at a time when the Vietnamization process was nearly pcomplete and because there were by then only two reinforced American combat brigades and 5,416 American advisers in the whole of Vietnam, this book may be germane to U.S. and Coalition efforts to train indigenous forces and to reduce the number of U.S. forces fighting insurgents in Iraq.

The Battle of An Loc begins with the strategic context, then scopes down to the enemy and friendly operational-level dispositions, and finally focuses on the battle, its lessons, and its aftermath. Willbanks explains the command and control architecture of the U.S. advisory effort and the array of indigenous South Vietnamese forces in 1972. He observes that when North Vietnam decided to launch large-scale massed conventional attacks during the 1972 campaign, "they made a major miscalculation when they failed to anticipate how much air power they would have to contend with. …

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