Vietnam's Final Air Campaign...


...Operations Linebacker I & II May-December 1972, from Pen and Sword



Title: Vietnam's Final Air Campaign

Author: Stephen Emerson

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52672-845-6


A new book in the Cold War series from Pen and Sword , this time tackling the final air campaigns by the US against North Vietnam. In 1972 the US was under pressure to get out of their involvement with the war in Vietnam.  The North Vietnamese were still looking to defeat the regime within South Vietnam. The book tells us about their build-up for an Easter Offensive, one which had good initial success. The new year, the 'Year of the Rat - a Time of Decision' explains the situation. The offensive by the North Vietnamese involved their conventional forces, accompanied by heavy equipment such as tanks. While the US ground troops were being steadily reduced there remained the matter of the peace talks in Paris. The US wanted out and the North Vietnamese stalled.

The book explains how the US were keen to reach an agreement and how world politics were affecting both sides. Both Russia and China, the main suppliers to the North Vietnamese, were adding pressure for the North to end the war, as part of the wider efforts at Détente. Then Nixon makes the decision to use US air power to force the North into an agreement. He chose to start a bombing campaign against the North.  Not only against the NVA forces in the South, to counter their Easter Offensive successes but to significant targets in North Vietnam itself. It tells the story of both the first and second stages of the Linebacker campaign, and the North's response One of the factors in the campaign which begins to have an effect is in new technology. Laser targeting was providing accuracy that had not been possible before, and the mining of harbours helped put a stranglehold on the flow of supplies into the country. The end result by December 1972 was to force the hand of the North Vietnamese to finally reach a peace agreement in Paris which allowed the US to withdraw from the war 'with honour'.

This story took place over 45 years ago so to many this is history only. I am of an age that I remember all this happening and reading the 'extra' information that was not widely known at the time makes for an interesting read.  The book is illustrated with maps, formation diagrams and archive photos.


Another good addition to this Cold War series and a very readable book.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.