With the majority of U.S. troops out of South Vietnam, the North Vietnamese sensed an opportunity to end the war with a conventional invasion. On March 30, 1972, North Vietnam launched the Easter Offensive -- a large, three-pronged drive into South Vietnam using heavy tanks and mobile units. U.S. airpower played an essential role in stopping the attack. The biggest battle occurred during the North Vietnamese siege of An Loc. Airpower not only supplied materiel to the encircled ground forces, but also destroyed nearly all of the North Vietnamese tanks and artillery.
When the Easter Offensive came to a halt, however, North Vietnam controlled much of South Vietnam near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), along with a strip of land along South Vietnam's border with Laos and Cambodia.
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