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Vietnam War

VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 34

									Vietnam War

Military History
              American Role
                1945-54
 Observer
 Gave French aid against Vietminh
  – Part of strategy to fight communism
  – By 1954—US pays 80% of cost
 French ask for assistance-US refuses
         Geneva Agreement
 1954
 Laos and Cambodia made independent
 Vietnam divided
  – Elections in 2 years
  – North under control of Ho Chi Minh
  – South—Diem
 South refuses to hold elections in 1956
         Problems with South
 Never a “true nation”—artificial construct
 Diem sets up dictatorship
  – Attacks enemies
  – Catholic minority given favored positions
 Never has support of people in South
  – Insurgency starts—initially not control by North
 US sends in advisors
               Advisor Stage
 Initially advise ARVN to fight “American
  style”
 President Kennedy sends LBJ to investigate
  situation in Vietnam.
 Sends in more “advisors”
  – Up to 16,000 helping the Vietnamese
 Massive influx of technology
  – Helicopters, tanks, aircraft
                 John Paul Vann
   Advisor in 1962
   Counter-insurgency skills
   Becomes frustrated with ARVN
   Battle of Ap Bac
    – Lack of assertiveness of ARVN
    – Reply on artillery and firepower
    – Allow enemy to escape
 Vann attempts to report problems
    – Ignored—leadership only reports success
    – Goes to Press—NY Times
    Gulf of Tonkin Incident (1964)
   US Navy doing surveillance of North
   Same time secret CIA missions in North
   N. Vietnam does not realize difference
   Attack USS Maddox
   3 days later—repeat attack
    – Many question if attack really happened
         American Response
 Turning Point
 Johnson not completely honest with public
 G of T resolution written, waiting for right
  moment
 Mistake-- obtain Declaration of War?
              Americanization
 Limited War
  – Limited manpower
  – Limited goals
      Allow S. Vietnam to exist without communist
       intervention
      Probably impossible to accomplish
 War of Attrition
  – Kill more than enemy can field
  – Bodycounts important
 Westmoreland asks for more troops
 American public told that victory is close
                  Air War
 Rolling Thunder—drop more tonnage than
  WWII
  – More in South than North
  – Gradualism
  – Controlled in Washington
  – Hanoi, Haiphong harbor, Chinese border off
    limits
 Problem-few suitable targets for strategic
  bombing
            Different Result?
 JCS drew up list of 94 targets in 1965
  – Claimed it would knock North out of the war in 2
    weeks.
  – Most targets were on off-limits list
           Change in Air War
 Late in War--Negotiation strategy
  – Linebacker I
      Force NV to negotiate
  – Linebacker II
      Break negotiations impasse
 Most restraints removed
 Very effective—high losses of B-52s
                  Naval Role
 Significant Role 1965-68
 Fire support—use of carriers and battleships
 Interdiction of supplies
  – Operation Market Time
      Stop coastline resupply of VC
 Riverine Warfare
  – Control the rivers—Mekong River
  – Generally successful
              Tet Offensive
 Turning Point of war
 Seemingly impossible major attack
 Hit urban areas
  – Crushed—VC basically destroyed as force
 Politically- US defeat, NV victory
  – Role of media-Walter Cronkite
 Johnson begins to have doubts
  – Halts bombing, stops troop increases
             My Lai Massacre
 Attack by American troops on unarmed
  women and children
  – Area of known heavy VC activity-”pinkville”
  – Charlie Company recently lost popular Srgt.
 Killed over 400 Vietnamese
 Cover-up –revealed by NY Times
 Came to be a symbol of American actions in
  Vietnam
  – Blow to military credibility
           Change in policy
 Westmoreland asks for 200,000 more troops
 Johnson’s advisors start to tell him the war
  is unwinnable.
  – Recommend disengagement
 Johnson leaves big issues for Nixon to
  resolve in 1969
 Nixon claims to have “secret plan”
     Failed American Strategy
 Depended heavily on search and destroy
  missions
 Depended on sophisticated surveillance and
  heavily armed patrols to locate enemy
 Then destroy with airstikes, artillery and air
  cavalry
 Need for repeated sweeps
 Hard to identify enemy—high civilian losses
            Vietnamization
 US slowly withdraws
  – Turns over equipment to ARVN
 Nixon Administration decides to walk away
 Negotiations with North Vietnamese
      Secret War in Cambodia
 Nixon began to bomb communist bases in neutral
  Cambodia.
 April, 1972 American and Vietnamese forces
  invade Cambodia
 Hope to cut North Vietnamese supply lines
 Failed to achieve its goal
  – Destabilizes the Cambodian government
 Massive protest in America—appears to be
  expansion of war
                End is near
 1972-NV launches major offensive
  – Smashes SV forces
  – US bombs North-nothing else
 Early in 1973, negotiated settlement
  reached
  – SV government in place
  – Allowed VC and NVA in control of parts of
    South
                       End
 January 1973-last American combat soldier
  leaves South
 March 1975-North launches another
  offensive
  – US fails to help
  – North wins
                 Cost of War
   Military, social and political disaster
   58,000 Americans killed
   3-4 million Vietnamese
   Cost of war estimated at $100 billion
   Nonmonetary costs much higher
    – Undermined confidence in American institutions

								
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