Bob Baker has done prodigious and commendable research on the intelligence failure that occurred during the North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam in Easter of 1972. It was indeed a failure because the South Vietnamese battalion I was advising was overrun by an overwhelming North Vietnamese force as were other Marine units on the western frontier of South Vietnam. We had absolutely no warning of the massive attack despite the fact that it had been in preparation by North Vietnam for months. The northern part of the country was saved in my opinion by the South Vietnamese Marines and a Vietnamese AirBorne Regiment who while overrun, fell back to eventually stop the onslaught.
I do not attribribute the failure to any one individual but to a system that was bureaucratic, “stove-piped” over classified and not truly respected by those in command, who required it. As is usually the case in such failures, the ones who needed the intelligence the most, those on the front lines, failed to get it. The battle was 49 years ago. My hope is the intelligence community and those in command will read this and say, “it couldn’t happen again.” I’m not completely sanguine about the potential for future failure.
General, U.S. Marine Corps (ret)