The Extensive Vietnam War The Vietnam War was America’s extensive war and was also its most troublesome. By the 1970s, America’s troops had risen to over half a million. No one can precisely say when this war started because there is no declaration of war by either of the two countries. There was no dramatic event like there was in World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Most know the outcome of the Vietnam war but in this essay I will proceed to explore what happened and why it happened. President Johnson inherited from his predecessor both a commitment to South Vietnam and a group of advisors who coordinated that commitment. However Johnson was not that knowledgeable about foreign affairs. A lot of his methods worked for him here in the United States but outside of it, they did not have the same effect. Johnson was known for his unawareness of the Vietnamese culture, history, and way of life. Therefor he never could comprehend the ideologies or psychologies of its leaders. He relied on his advisor’s knowledge even more than President Kennedy did. From 1964 to 1965 Johnson transformed “a limited commitment to assist the South Vietnamese government to an open-ended commitment to preserve an independent, non-Communist South Vietnam,” and took the United States to war. The men who most influenced the shape of Southeast Asian policy were Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and Ambassador to South Vietnam Maxwell Taylor. Robert S. McNamara was the Secretary of Defense during Kennedy’s admiration and carried over to Johnson’s. He preferred to use mathematical models to calculate required military for in Vietnam. He attempted to avoid escalation of the war by putting restrictions on military operations. He served from 1961 to 1968. McNamara was responsible for the institution of systems analysis in public policy, which developed into the discipline known today as policy analysis. McNamara took other steps to improve U.S. deterrence posture and military capabilities. He raised the proportion of Strategic Air Command, or S.A.C., strategic bombers on 15-minute ground alert from 25 percent to 50 percent, thus lessening their vulnerability to missile attack. In December 1961 he established the United States Strike Command, or S.T.R.I.C.O.M. McGeorge Bundy was United States National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from 1961 through 1966, and president of the Ford Foundation from 1966 through 1979. He is known primarily for his role in escalating the involvement of the United States in Vietnam during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. In 1961 he became national security adviser for President Kennedy and he had a vital role in all of the major foreign policy and defense decisions of the Kennedy and part of the Johnson administration. These included the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, most controversially, the Vietnam War. Bundy was a strong proponent of the Vietnam War. David Dean Rusk was the United States Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Rusk is the second-longest serving U.S. Secretary of State of all time. He believed in the use of military action to combat Communism. Early in his term, he had strong doubts about US intervention in Vietnam, but later his vigorous public defense of US actions in the Vietnam War made him a frequent target of anti-war protests. Maxwell Davenport Taylor was a United States Army general and diplomat of the mid-20th century. Taylor was of crucial importance during the first weeks and months of the Vietnam War. Whereas initially President Kennedy had told Taylor that "the independence of South Vietnam rests with the people and government of that country," Taylor was soon to recommend that 8,000 American combat troops be sent to the region at once. After making his report to the Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff, Taylor was to reflect on the decision to send troops to South Vietnam: "I don't recall anyone who was strongly against, except one man, and that was the President. The President just didn't want to be convinced that this was the right thing to do.... It was really the President's personal conviction that U.S. ground troops shouldn't go in." Taylor was against 1963 South Vietnamese coup that got the President of South Vietnam killed. During the first few days of August 1964, a series of controversial events took place in the Gulf of Tonkin involving the U.S. and North Vietnamese naval forces. The results of this incident included the bombing of North Vietnamese targets as well as a blank check to wage war on Vietnam. On August 2 of that same year North Vietnam patrol boats attacked the destroyer USS Maddox which was on a surveillance mission. The USS Maddox fired with its three-inch and five-inch guns which damaged one of the attacking boats. Aircraft from the USS Ticonderoga carrier damaged the other patrol boats as they sped back to their bases. Back in Washington one of the main proponents who favored an air strike in retaliation was General Maxwell Taylor. South Vietnam’s ruler, General Khanh, also called for air strikes against North Vietnam. However President Johnson resented an air strike and instead sent the Maddox back on patrol joined with another destroyer named the USS Turner Joy. Johnson felt that doing this was necessary because he had to show that the U.S. was not intimidated and that we would not shy away from a fight. That night was a very confusing night. It was reported that three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were waiting to ambush the destroyers. Apparently the boats appeared on the radar and were preparing for ambush but were they were never actually located. The two U.S. destroyers fired at open water and so did the four U.S. jets that were called to the scene. Crew members seemingly saw wakes in the water from torpedoes but neither ship was ever hit with one. The two destroyers maneuvered for two hours to avoid these so-called attacks. The next day they attributed this mistake of attack on them to radar and sonar contacts to weather effects, and to the inexperience and anxiety of the crew’s. Operation Rolling Thunder was the title of a gradual and sustained U.S. 2nd Air Division U.S. Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force aerial bombardment campaign conducted against North Vietnam from March 2nd, 1965 until November 1st, 1968, during the Vietnam War. The four objectives of the operation, which evolved over time, were to boost the morale of the Saigon regime in South Vietnam, to persuade North Vietnam to stop its support for the communism in South Vietnam without actually taking any ground forces into communist North Vietnam, to destroy North Vietnam's transportation system, industrial base, and air defenses, and to interdict the flow of men and material into South Vietnam. These goals were difficult to obtain because of constrainment in the U.S. and by the military aid and assistance received by North Vietnam from its communist allies. The operation became the most intense air and ground battle waged during the Cold War period and it was the most difficult such campaign fought by the U.S. Air Force since the aerial bombardment of Germany during World War II. Supported by communist allies, North Vietnam fielded a potent mixture of refined air-to-air and ground-to-air weapons that created one of the most effective air defenses ever faced by American military aviators. After one of the longest aerial campaigns ever conducted by any nation, Rolling Thunder was terminated as a strategic failure in late 1968 having achieved none of its objectives.
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