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Vietnam 1965-1975» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Lone search for Charlie. Spring 1972. Debacle at Quang Tri. rss

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Petri P
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Spring 1972


The modifiers are (from political sections - SVN is otherwise empty and peaceful):

Quang Tri -4
Phong Dinh -3
Tay Ninh -2
Vinh Binh -2
Quang Nam -1
Binh Dinh -1

The efforts of the political sections are not enough. SVN gains 4, reaching the new peak population of 290.

No strategic war.

Disloyal Marine leader (A3) is replaced by a B2, loyalty 7. Disloyal 9th leader (A0) is replaced by a B3, loyalty 13.

No coup or instability.

SVN morale rises by +2 (Thieu, population), again at 155. US morale rises by +2, at 307.

NVN morale rises by +36, at 888, 36 commitment available.

Just a half year of peace, and SVN is recovering admirably.

SVN buys a set of replacements (2 supply, 1 draft). +4 replacements, draft at 290, supplies at 16.

NVN buys a regiment for the division lacking it (3), and 99 replacements (33). Replacements at 184. 4 new political sections. Three to Thua Thien, one to An Giang.

NVA exits the trail.

ARVN effectiveness roll is a 6. Again, no one is effective.

At the beginning of Spring 1972:

ARVN Repl 437
VC Repl 0
NVA Repl 184
Trans 6
Air avail 212, total 283 (monsoons.)

1st turn

The ARVN sacrificial armor units near IV corps border are ordered to stay. (To see how expensive it will be for NVA to destroy them - would trading lone armor (just supplies) at these doomed capitals and towns, to destroy some NVA replacements, be economical?)

Otherwise, there is not much that can or need to be done, ineffective units are ineffective. [Comment from a later point in time: An error, but I don't take errors back. Noticing them later allows stuff which would not otherwise happen.]

No ARVN units can hold or patrol. Note: NVA can even drive through ARVN units with no chance of incidental attacks, only effective units can demand those.

-= The Battle of Quang Tri =-

This time, lets have a full description of the battle, and the related thinking. Such an amount of reporting for a single battle will not happen again. But this is a good example of a three division assault against a provincial capital, with no interference from the ineffective victims. (If not interested, skip to the executive summary later.)

As ARVN is ineffective, it cannot reaction move, and it cannot force incidental attacks. This means the attack can be planned and executed in detail. Three HQs strategically move to provide support (one of them drives through Quang Tri, unchallenged.) The first attack will contain regiments from each of the three divisions. (One will drive through Quang Tri, to be able to attack from the south.)

Four VC political sections move to cut the retreat paths, so does an NVA infantry regiment. These prevent the ARVN from retreating, except to the north, through an attacking NVA regiment. The ARVN HQ, the priority target here, does not have movement to reach the other side of the VC units (not even with helicopters.) The retreating units, if they survived the incidental attack, would end up north of Quang Tri, in cultivated terrain, in the middle of NVA. That would not be safe, either.

This deployment also leaves enough room for a second attack - the new attackers would be placed on the locations occupied currently by only VC units, avoiding stacking any regiments, to limit losses caused by later air strikes. There are more regiments and artillery in NVN to exactly replicate this attack for a second time, if the first has to be canceled.

(The large stack adjacent to the capital is a mechanized regiment, 2 artillery and 2 already moved HQs)

As there is room for a second attack, the first attack can be cancelled if US goes overboard with defensive air support. But, here even a 100+ attacker casualty column from air support would not be a catastrophe, an infantry regiment can be taken as a casualty if needed, and the ARVN would likely still be wiped out - if they survived the attack, retreated and survived the incidental attack, there would still be pursuit combat. All of those combat rounds would also eat many ARVN replacements. A multiround combat might not be in the interest of ARVN at all.

Actually, US would be welcome to use most of the air points in the defence of Quang Tri, if it wanted to. It is much preferable to over 50 air strikes against regiments in open terrain.

The attack is made by 2 mechanized regiments and 1 infantry regiment, supported by 2 artillery and three HQs. The defenders are the 7th HQ, 10/7th, 7th ac, and an armor battalion.

NVA has 23 strength + 38 artillery. ARVN has 9 ground strength, 2 regional forces and 9 artillery. At most 27 support points count for odds for ARVN. 18 air points and Free Fire takes care of that. 6 more air points push NVA to attacker casualty column of 56. 61 vs 38 is +1 from odds. Terrain is -1.

(Yes, I know - US should have declared the use of air points and Free Fire before NVA/VC moved - but finding the correct amount would have required the same thinking as above, and I didn't want to repeat it here. The rule is: enough for full odds effect, and extra for a better casualty column or two, if cheap enough to get, not too much because the attack can be cancelled. This is the standard operating procedure for adding air to me. Another casualty column would have cost 20 more, to kill just an average of 1.5 NVA replacements more, better to leave those air points for strikes.)

The attack is: 56 column vs 43 column at +0. A roll of six means 6/5 casualties. How to take them?

For NVA, this is easy - 6 replacements. The infantry regiment is more expensive than that, and the replacements will not run out this season, monsoons protect against some of the air strikes and ARVN is ineffective. For ARVN, the choice is much more difficult:

The rolled pursuit (+2) does not work yet, but the inherent pursuit of mechanized regiments would count (as the infantry would be left out from the next attack.) That would mean 43 vs 43 column at +1 (if ARVN spends replacements to not lose anything.) +0 from odds, -1 from terrain, +2 from mechanized pursuit. It would be impossible to get negative rolled pursuit, but positive rolled pursuit would be quite likely - causing this battle to spiral upwards.

ARVN cannot stay here and continue the battle, replacement for replacement. Too expensive. What about retreat?

ARVN retreating through a regiment would be 43 vs 31 at +0 - Using the air of the next combat round, but NVA would get defensive support from the artillery at border, still uncommitted, leaving current operating artillery available. Bad expected results for ARVN from the incidental attack. Then the pursuit combat, supported by the still available operating artillery would cause even more ARVN losses. Spending 3 points for interdiction would prevent ARVN from retreating outside of the two HQs still in range - meaning still more replacement losses on the round after that. Because of the pursuit bonuses, those lost replacements would not even cause much NVA losses. And, the ARVN units would die in this turn anyway, it would just be an expensive way of going.

Trying to retreat away would be trading replacements with NVA at a bad rate before the inevitable. The replacements are the most important thing, they should not be cheaply traded away. So, no retreat. No staying here by using just replacements. What about killing the regiment, leaving just the armored units and the HQ to defend Quang Tri?

That would be at +3 from odds, +2 from pursuit, -1 from terrain. 43 column vs 31 column at +4. About 3 more lost NVA repl, and the loss of the defenders, likely. Or, what about killing the armored units, and paying just 2 replacements to allow the regiment to live?

That would be almost like keeping all ARVN here alive, but the odds would be +1, +2 pursuit, -1 terrain, and the column would be 43 vs 31, final modifier of +2. There is a slight chance for a 6/1 result, which ARVN could pay by losing the HQ, but otherwise NVA would likely lose about 3 replacements, and ARVN would take the regiment as a casualty.

It actually does not really matter if the regiment or the armored units live to fight on the next round, on the average just one more NVA replacement loss if the regiment lives, and there would be a 1 in 6 chance of higher NVA losses. That lottery ticket could be purchased by using 2 ARVN replacements.

Even if the HQ is effectively dead, the regiment could escape with choppers (assuming the replacements are paid for it). Then, we would have a lone, permanently ineffective regiment, with a dead HQ, stuck near NVA in heavy terrain, also unable to strategically move - because it cannot reach a valid target as required for ineffective ARVN units strategically moving. A punching bag, which the whole NVA army here can use to bleed ARVN replacements by bombarding it until it chooses to die. Not a good fate.

The armored units could retreat through VC, and then be attacked by the pursuing units, or by the next batch of NVA to cross the border. Staying here the defenders at least have better terrain and regional forces. No retreat for these, either.

ARVN losses are: The 10/7th Infantry regiment. ARVN does not gamble with or squander replacements.

The 2nd round of combat: 43 column vs 31 column at +4. 3/5. 3 NVA replacements, the rest of the ARVN units are destroyed, to save replacements.

Total losses in the battle of Quang Tri: 9 NVA replacements, 1 ARVN HQ, 1 ARVN regiment, 1 ARVN armored cavalry, 1 ARVN armored battalion.

So, that was the detailed account of the Battle of Quang Tri.

-= The Battle of Quang Tri, executive summary =-

NVA surrounds Quang Tri and attacks, 24 air and Free Fire, 56 vs 43 at +0: 6 NVA repl, ARVN regiment. 43 vs 31 at +4: 3 NVA repl, all defenders destroyed.


NVA encircles Hue from all directions except north to north-east. They do this mostly by driving through it, while the apathetic ARVN soldiers look away and pretend not to notice. Also, two artillery units are strategically moved to jungle adjacent to Hue.

In the southern shore of IV corps, a mechanized regiment, supported by a HQ, attacks Ha Thien. The defender is just an ac battalion with regional forces. Free fire and 3 air points mean the attack will be at column 8 vs column 8 at +2. A good roll of 6 means no NVA losses (average would have been a bit less than 1), and the ac battalion dies.

In Chau Doc, a mechanized regiment enters Tinh Bien, supported by an independent artillery, and attacks the ac battalion there. Again 3 air points and free fire - 8 vs 8 at +2. Roll of 4. 1 NVA repl, a dead ac battalion.

And in Chau doc, a mechanized regiment, supported by a HQ (strategically moved there first) and an independent artillery attacks Chau Phu, containing an augmented armor battalion. Six air points means this is 14 column vs 14 column at +1. Roll of 6. 1 NVA repl, a dead armor battalion.

In Tay Ninh, a mechanized regiment attacks the capital town, supported by a HQ and two independent artillery units. The defenders have 7 ground strength, 2 regional forces, and 18 artillery (the ineffective independent artillery nearby doesn't care enough to give support.) Five air points and free fire need to be added to push the attacker to 31 column. This also drops the odds to -1. Another -1 from terrain. So the attack is 31 vs 22 columns at -2. A roll of 3 means 5 NVA and 2 ARVN replacements, and the pursuit result of -1. (Killing the ac battalion there would worsen the odds, removing also air from the odds calculation, so replacements were used instead). 31 vs 22 at -1, including +2 inherent pursuit, does not entice NVA, it stops.

NVA allows operations to ARVN

Hue contains 8 ground strength, 2 regional forces and 18 artillery. It is in the danger of being isolated.

[At this point, a couple of simulated attack runs against Hue are rolled, to see how it would go in the next turn - two attacks like against Quang Tri, which depend on mechanized pursuit, with an ability to cancel the first attack, would clear Hue at the cost of ~40 NVA replacements, attacker at column 76, burning just 42 air points for that turn. An all-out attack, which burns only 24 air points, attacker at column 100+, would clear Hue at the cost of ~25 NVA replacements. In both cases, two NVA infantry regiments would be taken as casualties, to avoid overstacking for air attacks. Hue being a major city means the mechanized pursuit is not effective enough to attack with smaller forces repeatedly. Unfortunately for ARVN, Hue contains the best division HQ, a B7 (the division would have been effective even in this hopeless Corps with anything but a 6 ..) - losing it is not desirable, and fighting here on the next turn would be a repeat of the debacle at Quang Tri, just with higher NVA losses. ARVN needs to find a way to extract the defenders.]

The defenders of Hue can strategically move to Phu Loc - a small coastal town, but not a port. They can continue next turn further away, or remain there. If attacked, the HQ and the regiment could retreat to Da Nang - or by choppers over the sea if the VC blocks the road. The artillery and the armor battalion could not follow in that case. Maybe they should remain at Hue, to slow down the NVA. They can be easily purchased back, unlike the HQ and the regiment which would need draft. After the next pacification, it is doubtful if it would be economical to disband replacements for a lower draft level - quite a lot might need to be disbanded before the HQ and the regiment could be purchased.

The HQ and the regiment, using free fire, strategically run through an NVA mechanized regiment which is supported by two independent artillery. That is 14 column vs 14 column at -1. 1 NVA and 1 ARVN replacement lost. The ARVN units stop at Phu Loc.

Two regiments of the now HQ-less ineffective 7th division are moved to the same stack from the south. This makes the stack so strong NVA will have trouble attacking it. And NVA is not in bombardment range either. This should be safe enough. If NVA attacks, and blocks the retreat route on the ground, and has success, those two regiments are now expendable while the HQ and the good regiment will fly to safety.

The still available 171 air points strike NVA at open repeatedly: 47 NVA replacements, 5 air points lost.

Losses for the 1st turn: 64 NVA replacements, 3 ARVN replacements, 1 ARVN HQ, 1 ARVN regiment, 3 ARVN armored cavalry, 2 ARVN armored battalions, 5 air points. 3 captured capitals.

2nd turn

The retreated defenders of Hue at Phu Loc would need to go one hex south, to the mountain. They can't, ineffective. They move to Da Nang. The regiments lacking their HQ remain here, hoping to retreat one hex from an NVA attack. (That mountain hex is a nice choke point to defend.)

It would be nice, if NVA could not just drive through the ineffective defenders without risk. Maybe next season the chief of staff is effective, and an artillery unit moved here could then trigger the incidental attack.

The 105mm artillery at An Binh moves to Dinh Tuong. An Binh is hopeless to defend now, and artillery is too expensive to voluntarily trade to NVA replacements. An armor battalion takes its place. (Ineffective armor can't change corps. Being destroyed here allows it to be built to elsewhere. Like Saigon.)

NVA Operations

VC moves to cut the retreat paths from Hue. NVA takes positions in Quang Tri and Thua Thien - and enters Hue with 5 units (2x HQ, 2x artillery, 1 x regiment). 3 more regiments and 2 more artillery attack it from adjacent cover. 32+48 vs 2+9+RF. +5 for odds, -2 for major city. Adding 15 air almost doubles NVA expected casualties, it is done. 56 column vs 43 column at +3: 4 NVA, 5 ARVN casualties - ARVN takes the units as losses.

In Tay Ninh, the NVA regiment adjacent to the capital moves to the jungle, HQ and 2x artillery fire at the capital: 2 ARVN replacements, 1 ARVN armored cavalry battalion destroyed.

An NVA Artillery position moves towards Chau Doc. The NVA in Chau Doc remain in cover.

An Binh is attacked - HQ, mechanized and infantry regiment vs armored battalion and regional forces. And 7 air, enough to push attackers to column 22, and enough for maximum support for odds. 22 column vs 14 colum at +1: 2 NVA / 2 ARVN - taken as a loss of an armored battalion.

ARVN operations: The available 187 air points strike at NVA in cover: 37 NVA replacements, 6 air points lost.

Losses for the 2nd turn: 43 NVA replacements, 2 ARVN replacements, 1 ARVN 175mm artillery, 2 ARVN armored battalions, 1 ARVN armored cavalry battalion, 6 air points, one captured capital.

Total losses for Spring 1972: 107 NVA replacements, 5 ARVN replacements, 1 ARVN HQ, 1 ARVN regiment, 1 ARVN 175mm artillery, 4 ARVN armored battalions, 4 ARVN armored cavalry battalions, 11 air points, 4 captured capitals.

[Comment: if the HQ and the regiment had not been lost, the above casualties would have been an excellent result for ARVN, even with the loss of the artillery. Now, depending on population in the next season, some replacements could be demobilized to get free draft for repurchase of at least the HQ - it is a good one.]

At the end of Spring 1972:

US Morale: 307
US Commitment: 300
NVN Morale: 888
NVN Commitment: 888
SVN Morale: 155
SVN Draft Level:290
SVN Population: 290
NLF Draft Level:639
NLF Population: 70
NLF Supply Pool:22
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