Break in the Chain—Intelligence Ignored
Military Intelligence in Vietnam and Why the Easter Offensive Should Have Turned Out Differently
W. R. “Bob” Baker
Casemate, Philadelphia, 2021, 264 pages
Book Review published on: October 28, 2022
Break in the Chain—Intelligence Ignored: Military Intelligence in Vietnam and Why the Easter Offensive Should Have Turned Out Differently is an accurate firsthand history of the 571st Military Intelligence Detachment during the massive enemy Easter Offensive of 1972 during the Vietnam War. W. R. “Bob” Baker provides his abbreviated personal Army brat history and how he entered the field of military intelligence and arrived in Vietnam, and how the 571st attempted to inform commanders before the offensive but who would not listen. Though a personal memoir, the book provides the detailed analysis of the mission of intelligence detachments role in Vietnam sets the condition to compare the Easter Offensive to other military leadership failures to Operation Market Garden, where commanders ignored the intelligence provided. The author has written an extensively researched history of the 571st Military Intelligence Detachment assigned to Vietnam in 1972. This book is relatively short with over 183 pages and an additional fifty pages of notes and references.
Most intelligence background researchers and military historians will appreciate the point of view of this book and the detailed personal insight of the author’s perspective. Baker does provide his unique personal story and the frustration of the chain of command’s actions of ignoring accurate and relevant enemy intelligence that could have prevented or possibly slowed down the Easter Offensive of 1972. Baker purposively provides that the intelligence reporting clearly indicated the upcoming surprise attack.
Baker’s main theme throughout the book is to describe the concise intelligence effort of the 571st in 1972 that could have changed the results of the Easter Offensive. Baker severely criticizes the chain of command’s failure to acknowledge and outright ignore the accurate intelligence provided to them.
With personal historical accuracy, Baker tells the honorable service of the 571st through the environment in Vietnam after Lam Son 719 and up to the frustrations of the Easter Offensive. He clearly tells the true story of an historic failure of commanders ignoring the intelligence provided to them that could have changed the results of the Easter Offensive of 1972. Break in the Chain—Intelligence Ignored 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. I highly recommend this book for those interested in the last years of the Vietnam War and military intelligence professionals.
Book Review written by: Col. Paul Berg, U.S. Army, Retired, PhD, U.S. Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas