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Vietnam War Timeline: 1971 - 1972

1971

8th Feb.

Operation Lam Son 719 is launched. ARVN troops invade Laos.

3rd March

5th Special Forces Group leaves Vietnam.

5th March

11th Armoured Cavalry Regiment (less 2nd Squadron) leaves Vietnam.

14th April III Marine Amphibious Force withdrawals from Vietnam

29th April

1st Cavalry Division (less 3rd Brigade) also leaves Vietnam

30th April

2nd Brigade 25th Infantry returns home along with the 1st Marine Division

June

New York Times starts publishing the ‘Pentagon Papers’

25th Aug.

173rd Airborne Brigade leaves for home.

27th Aug.

1st Brigade 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) leaves Vietnam

20th Sept.

18th and 20th Engineer Brigades withdraws from Vietnam

29th Nov.

Americal Division, including 11th Infantry Brigade and 198th Brigade, disbanded.

31st Dec.

U.S. military personnel levels declines to 156,800.


1972

February
21st President Nixon visits Peking and meets with Mao Zedong. North Vietnam fears a deal to their disadvantage.
Korean Marines leave Vietnam
March
10th 101st Airborne leaves Vietnam
12th Australian Task Force withdraws
30th The Easter Offensive begins - Equipped with Soviet Tanks, Vo Nguyen Giap’s North Vietnamese Army launch a large-scale assault across the DMZ into Quang Tri province
April
4th In response to the Communist's Easter Offensive, President Nixon authorizes U.S. bombing of North Vietnam up to the 18th parallel
6th 2nd Squadron 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment departs Vietnam
7th Launching a second prong to their Easter Offensive, North Vietnamese forces drive into Binh Long Province and begin an assault on An Loc (65 miles northwest of Saigon)
12th North Vietnamese launch a third phase of the Easter Offensive, striking from northern Cambodia into the Central Highlands and aiming for Kontum City
May
1st North Vietnamese forces capture Quang Tri city
8th Nixon orders the mining of North Vietnam’s ports and rivers in order to cut off the Communist's supply line
10th U.S. Air Force begins Operation Linebacker, the sustained bombing of North Vietnam's military installations, storage facilities and transportation network. The campaign aims to destroy the Communist's ability to sustain it's Easter Offensive by cutting off supply routes into North Vietnam and by stopping any NVA reinforcements from entering South Vietnam.
June
9th After weeks of fierce fighting, Kontum City is cleared of NVA and declared secure
17th Five burglars are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate building in Washington D.C.
18th After withstanding heavy artillery bombardment, an ARVN counteroffensive, combined with US air strikes, forces the NVA to withdraw from An Loc
26th 3rd Brigade 1st Cavalry leaves Vietnam
29th 196th Infantry Brigade (Light) leaves for home
New Zealand troops leave Vietnam
30th General Frederick C. Weyand takes over as MACV Commander from General Creighton Abrams
July
18th Jane Fonda delivers an anti-war message on Hanoi Radio
31st 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade leaves Vietnam
August
23rd 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, the last U.S. ground combat Battalion withdraws from Vietnam
September
16th After weeks of intense fighting, ARVN forces recapture Quang Tri city effectively ending North Vietnam's Easter Offensive
October
8th North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho discusses a provisional peace agreement with Henry Kissinger. For the first time North Vietnam is prepared to accept a cease fire without insisting on the removal of South Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu or the creation of a coalition government.
11thth Kissinger and Le Duc Tho draft a 9-point cease fire agreement to be signed in Paris on October 30th by the U.S., South Vietnam (GVN), North Vietnam (DRV) and the PRG. The agreement:
  • Covers the exchange of POWs
  • Allows North Vietnamese troops to remain in the South Vietnam after the cease fire
  • Creates a National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord (NCNRC) (comprised of the GVN, PRG and a neutral third party) to oversee implementation of the agreement in South Vietnam
  • Reaffirms the 1954 agreement that the 17th parallel DMZ is a temporary demarcation line and not a political or territorial boundary. Reunification is to be achieved through peaceful means.
  • Contains a U.S. pledge to supply aid for the reconstruction of Indochina including North Vietnam
18th Kissinger meets with President Nguyen Van Thieu in Saigon to discuss the peace agreement
23rd President Nixon suspends Operation Linebacker
After discussions with Kissinger, Thieu rejects the peace deal
24th Thieu publicly states that he will never sign an agreement that imposes a coalition government on South Vietnam or allows North Vietnamese troops to remain in the country
26th Hanoi reveals elements of the peace proposal and accuses the U.S. of reneging on the schedule to sign the agreement. In response, Kissinger tells the press "We believe peace is at hand"
November
4th Hanoi agrees to resume negotiations with the U.S
7th President Nixon is re-elected
1st Signal Brigade departs Vietnam
11th The logistical base at Long Bien is turned over to the South Vietnamese, marking the end of direct U.S. Army participation in the war
December
13th The Paris peace negotiations collapse
14th Nixon warns the North Vietnamese that they have 72-hours to return to negotiations. The ultimatum is rejected.
18th Operation Linbacker II (aka Christmas bombing) begins. The most intensive bombing campaign of the Vietnam War, Linebacker II is designed to force the North Vietnamese to come to a quick agreement on the cease fire and targets the Hanoi and Haiphong areas
28th Hanoi agrees to reopen negotiations in Paris
29th Nixon suspends Linebacker II, though the bombing of military targets in southern North Vietnam continues
31st U.S. troop levels in Vietnam: 24,200

1969-1970   1973-1975