Break in the Chain - Intelligence Ignored

Military Intelligence in Vietnam and Why the Easter Offensive Should Have Turned out Differently

W. R. Baker

The account of an intelligence analyst trying to warn US commands of the impending Easter Offensive 1972.
Date Published :
August 2021
Publisher :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612009919
Pages : 264
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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A riveting combination of war memoir and unique examination of the role of intelligence during the Easter Offensive 1972 written by an intelligence analyst who was there in 1972.

For the first two weeks of the Easter Offensive of 1972, the 571st Military Intelligence Detachment provided the only pertinent collateral intelligence available to American forces. Twice daily, the Detachment provided intelligence to the USS Buchanan (DDG-14), US Navy SEALS, and Special Forces units including tactical and strategic forecasts of enemy movements, information that was otherwise unavailable to U.S. units and advisors in-country.

In the weeks before the offensive, vital agent reports and verbal warnings by the 571st MI Detachment had been ignored by all the major commands; they were only heeded, and then only very reluctantly, once the Offensive began. This refusal to listen to the intelligence explains why no Army or USMC organizations were on-call to recover prisoners discovered or U.S. personnel downed behind enemy lines, as in the BAT-21 incident, as the last two Combat Recon Platoons in Vietnam had been disbanded six weeks before the offensive began. The lessons and experiences of Operation Lam Son 719 in the previous year were ignored, especially with regard to the NVA’s tactical use of tanks and artillery. In his memoir, Bob Baker, the only trained military intelligence analyst with the 571st MI Detachment in 1972, reveals these and other heroics and blunders during a key moment in the Vietnam War.

About The Author

W.R. (Bob) Baker graduated first in the first Intelligence (Order of Battle) Analyst class to graduate from Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 1971. He was then the only intelligence analyst assigned to the 571st Military Intelligence Detachment/525th Military Intelligence Group in Da Nang, Vietnam, present at the time of the Easter Offensive of 1972. His further assignments after Vietnam included various positions for a combined total of 8 years with the European Defense Analysis Center/HQ, USEUCOM. He has received the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service, Joint Service and Army Commendation Medals. Bob has authored several articles on the Easter Offensive of 1972, intelligence, and Vietnam.


Chapter 1 – Growing Up an Army Brat
Chapter 2 – Basic Training
Chapter 3 – USA Intelligence School
Chapter 4 – On To Vietnam
Chapter 5 – My New Home
Chapter 6 – The Laos Prelude
Chapter 7 – Skyline Ridge/Campaign Z
Chapter 8 – Disrupting Internal Affairs
Chapter 9 – ABC’s of the Easter Offensive of 1972
Chapter 10 -The Enemy Plan
Chapter 11 – What Enemy?
Chapter 12 – Day 1: Thursday, 30 March 1972 “...let slip the dogs of war.”
Chapter 13 - The South Vietnamese Marines and their U.S. Advisors
Chapter 14 - Cut and Run: What ARVN called “Mobility”
Chapter 15 - The 571st “Recce Squadron”
Chapter 16 - Too, Too Many Tanks
Chapter 17 - In Retrospect
Chapter 18 - Prologue to Surrender
Chapter 19 - A Massacre near the Rockpile?
Chapter 20 - NVA Artillery in the Easter Offensive
Chapter 21 - The Bridge at Dong Ha
Chapter 22 - NVA Tanks Resume
Chapter 23 - U.S.S. Buchanan (DDG-14)
Chapter 24 - BAT-21
Chapter 25 - Independent NVA Regiment Actions in I Corps Area
Chapter 26 – National Intelligence
Chapter 27 – Theater and Area Commands
Chapter 28 – Diversions and Deceptions at the Onset
Chapter 29 – 571st Military Intelligence Detachment
Chapter 30 - Observations, Reflections, and Conclusions
Chapter 31 – Astrology (tu vi) Use
Chapter 32 – Southern I Corps
Chapter 33 - Quang Trung 729
Chapter 34 – Lessons Still Disregarded


"One hopes that the lessons in this book will help military and government leaders pay closer attention to intelligence and make the correct decisions in the future."

- The VVA Veteran

"...Baker’s volume offers some valuable insights into the diminished role of intelligence in the closing stages of a long war."

- International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence

"Bob Baker provides an accurate and emotional first-person account of the significant challenges intelligence professionals faced in the dynamic crucible of combat in Vietnam."

- The Military Intelligence Corps Association

"...a well-documented account that sheds light on an important intelligence contribution to the Vietnam War and the role of intelligence at the tactical level."

- Studies in Intelligence

"...not only corrects errors presented in other widely distributed books about the Vietnam War but it also makes for an interesting case study that should be included in such studies for both military officers and intelligence professionals...This book is highly recommended to both intelligence professionals and any readers that enjoy detailed descriptions of military battle."

- American Intelligence Journal

"...provides the historical intelligence example that can be used today by current military leaders and educators regarding the planning staff’s responsibility to help the commander’s visual the battlefield."

- Military Review

"I’m honored to endorse Bob Baker’s book, Break in the Chain: Intelligence Ignored, a grass-roots look at the intelligence prepared and presented to command elements warning of an impending attack - what we now know as the ‘Easter Offensive of 1972’. I’m excited that his historical work is being published to help counter the misperception by many of an ‘intelligence failure’, an oft maligned term typically used to cover the failure of leadership itself."

- G Duane Whitman, MSG USA (Ret), DoD Civilian (Ret)

"The riveting account of those few U.S. Military Advisors in the Northern region of South Vietnam near the DMZ as Armored Regiments and Infantry Divisions of North Vietnamese readied themselves to cross the Cua Viet River into South Vietnam in the spring of 1972 and continue the Easter Offensive."

- CDR. E.L. Hansen, Jr., USN (Ret.), Executive Officer, USS Buchanan (DDG-14) (1971-1972)

" The book contains stories of treachery and bravery, stories that all too often are missing from the telling of this "lost war". If you think you know about the Vietnam War, this book will surprise you."

- Roger Soiset, M.A., 199th Lt. Inf. Bde. 1969-70

"Bob Baker has written a powerful, fact-based and highly readable account of US Army intelligence operations during the latter years of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War."

- Colonel, USMC (Ret.) Andrew R. Finlayson, author of 'Killer Kane' and 'Rice Paddy Recon'

"Written with the authority of an intelligence professional whose experience of the Offensive is augmented with years of intensive research, Break in the Chain delivers a stinging condemnation of the historical tendency of senior military officers to privilege intelligence supporting their preferred interpretation of the battlefield reality."

- David Hanna, Veteran, British Army in Northern Ireland

"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."

- W.E. Boomer, General, U.S. Marine Corps (ret)

"This book is a well-written and extensively documented account by an intelligence insider who was there during the events described. It is a much-needed corrective to the narrative of a part of the Vietnam War that has received relatively little attention by most historians of the war."

- James H. Willbanks, PhD, LTC, USA (Ret) author of "Abandoning Vietnam" and "A Raid Too Far"

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