Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A FLAWED STRATEGY AND A DUBIOUS ALLY


The Second Indochina War was a war that lasted ten thousand days and it was the war that sparked dozens of riots.
South Vietnam is a land of villages. The villagers are the prize in a 30 year struggle for hearts and minds. The U.S. won the village war but lost South Vietnam.
It began as a determined attempt by Communist guerrillas (the so-called Vietcong) in the South, backed by Communist North Vietnam, to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. The struggle widened into a war between South Vietnam and North Vietnam and ultimately into a limited international conflict. The United States and some 40 other countries supported South Vietnam by supplying troops and munitions, and the USSR and the People's Republic of China furnished munitions to North Vietnam and the Vietcong. On both sides, however, the burden of the war fell mainly on the civilians.
The war also engulfed Laos, where the Communist Pathet Lao fought the government from 1965 to 1973 and succeeded in abolishing the monarchy in 1975; and Cambodia, where the government surrendered in 1975 to the Communist Khmer Rouge.
(© 1993-2009 Microsoft Corporation)
The Viet Cong, the lightly armed South Vietnamese communist insurgency, largely fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region.


BombedBuilding
Pictures of the Vietnam War
Photography by Roy C. Gibson Jr.
vietnampictures.us


This one you've seen (a postcard)
It's become the largest item of conversation
Pictures of the Vietnam War
Photography by Roy C. Gibson Jr.
vietnampictures.us


Smoke from body being burned in public
Pictures of the Vietnam War
Photography by Roy C. Gibson Jr.
vietnampictures.us


Pictures of the Vietnam War
Photography by Roy C. Gibson Jr.
vietnampictures.us


Pictures of the Vietnam War
Photography by Roy C. Gibson Jr.
vietnampictures.us


Pictures of the Vietnam War
Photography by Roy C. Gibson Jr.
vietnampictures.us


The North Vietnamese Army engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large-sized units into battle. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery and airstrikes.
The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities, including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers.
Various names have been applied to the conflict. Vietnam War is the most commonly used name in English. It has also been called the Second Indochina War, and the Vietnam Conflict. In Vietnamese, the war is known as Chiến tranh Việt Nam (The Vietnam War), or as Kháng chiến chống Mỹ (Resistance War Against America), loosely translated as the American War. As there have been so many conflicts in Indochina, this conflict is known by the name of their chief opponent to distinguish it from the others.

The Second Indochina War means:
Places the conflict into context with other distinct, but related, and contiguous conflicts in Southeast Asia. Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are seen as the battlegrounds of a larger Indochinese conflict that began at the end of World War II and lasted until communist victory in 1975. This conflict can be viewed in terms of the demise of colonialism and its after-effects during the Cold War.
Vietnam Conflict means:
Largely a U.S. designation, it acknowledges that the United States Congress never declared war on North Vietnam. Legally, the President used his constitutional discretion—supplemented by supportive resolutions in Congress—to conduct what was said to be a “police action”.
Vietnam War means:
Is the most commonly used designation in English.
Resistance War against the American Empire to Save the Nation (Chiến tranh giữ nước chống Đế quốc Mỹ):
The term favored by North Vietnam; it is more of a saying than a name, and its meaning is self-evident. Its usage has been reduced in recent years. The common name for the war is “Chiến tranh Việt Nam” (Vietnam War).
The main military organizations involved in the war were, on the side of the South, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the U.S. military, and, on the side of the North, the Vietnam People's Army (VPA), or North Vietnamese Army (NVA), and the Vietcong, or National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF), a communist army based in the South.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Army Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Generals
Pictures of the Vietnam War
Photography by Roy C. Gibson Jr.
vietnampictures.us


Army Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Generals
Pictures of the Vietnam War
Photography by Roy C. Gibson Jr.
vietnampictures.us

Initial Time Line:
January 1961 - Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pledges support for "wars of national liberation" throughout the world. His statement greatly encourages Communists in North Vietnam to escalate their armed struggle to unify Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh.
January 20, 1961- John Fitzgerald Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th U.S. President and declares "...we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to insure the survival and the success of liberty." Privately, outgoing President Eisenhower tells him "I think you're going to have to send troops..." to Southeast Asia.
The youthful Kennedy administration is inexperienced in matters regarding Southeast Asia. Kennedy's Secretary of Defense, 44-year-old Robert McNamara, along with civilian planners recruited from the academic community, will play a crucial role in deciding White House strategy for Vietnam over the next several years. Under their leadership, the United States will wage a limited war to force a political settlement.
However, the U.S. will be opposed by an enemy dedicated to total military victory "...whatever the sacrifices, however long the struggle...until Vietnam is fully independent and reunified," as stated by Ho Chi Minh.
May 1961 - President Kennedy sends 400 American Green Beret 'Special Advisors' to South Vietnam to train South Vietnamese soldiers in methods of 'counter-insurgency' in the fight against Viet Cong guerrillas.
The role of the Green Berets soon expands to include the establishment of Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG) made up of fierce mountain men known as the Montagnards. These groups establish a series of fortified camps strung out along the mountains to thwart infiltration by North Vietnamese.
Fall - The conflict widens as 26,000 Viet Cong launch several successful attacks on South Vietnamese troops. Diem then requests more military aid from the Kennedy administration.
October 24, 1961 - On the sixth anniversary of the Republic of South Vietnam, President Kennedy sends a letter to President Diem and pledges "the United States is determined to help Vietnam preserve its independence..."
President Kennedy then sends additional military advisors along with American helicopter units to transport and direct South Vietnamese troops in battle, thus involving Americans in combat operations. Kennedy justifies the expanding U.S. military role as a means "...to prevent a Communist takeover of Vietnam which is in accordance with a policy our government has followed since 1954." The number of military advisors sent by Kennedy will eventually surpass 16,000.
December 1961 - Viet Cong guerrillas now control much of the countryside in South Vietnam and frequently ambush South Vietnamese troops. The cost to America of maintaining South Vietnam's sagging 200,000 man army and managing the overall conflict in Vietnam rises to a million dollars per day.
November 22, 1963 - President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th U.S. President. He is the fourth President coping with Vietnam and will oversee massive escalation of the war while utilizing many of the same policy advisors who served Kennedy.


Photo of President Lyndon B. Johnson
Date 1960s
Source photolab.lbjlib.utexas.edu
Author Arnold Newman, White House Press Office (WHPO)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One
by Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes
To the right of Johnson is Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of Kennedy
to his left is Mrs. Lady Bird Johnsonand


November 24, 1963 - President Johnson declares he will not "lose Vietnam" during a meeting with Ambassador Lodge in Washington.
By year's end, there are 16,300 American military advisors in South Vietnam which received $500 million in U.S. aid during 1963.
March 1964 - Secret U.S.-backed bombing raids begin against the Ho Chi Minh trail inside Laos, conducted by mercenaries flying old American fighter planes.
(Copyright © 1999 The History Place™)
From 16,000 troops at the end of the Kennedy Administration, the U.S. commitment grew to 184,000 troops by the end of 1965 and reached a peak of 537,000 in the last year (1968) of the Johnson Administration. In a sense, this was a "back door" escalation. There were no dramatic national addresses in which the public was "called to war." In fact, the troop increases were typically announced at mid day with little or no fanfare. And LBJ explicitly refused to put the nation on a war footing and argued, in his 1966 State of the Union message, that the country could have both "guns and butter."
The Johnson Administration essentially found itself in a predicament --- a "political war trap" --- that was a product of the nuclear era, the Cold War, and domestic politics in the United States. The "trap" involved a wavering ally whose regime was threatened. The option of not using military force was discounted for fear of a "communist success" if the ally fell and the domestic repercussions this would trigger. However, it was believed that unrestricted military force --- such as crossing the Yalu River in the Korean War --- threatened to embroil the United States in a superpower confrontation. Johnson believed, for example, that an all out military effort against North Vietnam would trigger a Chinese or Soviet response that could escalate into a nuclear exchange. Given this logic, action was limited to conventional military force designed to achieve limited and political (as opposed to territorial) objectives.
Thus, the administration escalated in response to North Vietnamese actions. Its objective was to inflict a level of pain on the North Vietnamese that was sufficient to make them bargain in earnest. Thus Vietnam became a war of attrition. Johnson would regularly characterize his decisions as taking the middle ground. He would not "pull out" as the "doves" and "nervous Nellies" suggested nor would he go "all out" as the "hawkish" military advisors recommended
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
As the war escalated, demonstrations and other forms of protest become commonplace on university campuses and in major cities of the U.S, including the October 1967 march on the Pentagon.
The protests focused upon American policy in Vietnam, the military draft, connections between universities and the Defense Department as well as Lyndon Johnson himself. The mention of "gaps" became commonplace in political discussions. Lyndon Johnson was said to suffer from a "credibility gap" owing to his campaign as "peace candidate" in 1964. There was a so-called "communications gap" between supporters and opponents of the war. Finally, there was increasing mention of a "generation gap" that divided those who came of age during World War II and those coming of age in the Vietnam era. Criticism of the Johnson Administration grew more widespread and strident because of the increasing number of Americans killed in Vietnam. The number of Americans killed in action rose from a monthly average of 172 during 1965 to an average of 770 in 1967.
In November of 1967, the Administration launched an extensive "public relations" campaign. It was designed to convince Congress, the press, and the public that there was "progress" in Vietnam and that the war was being "won." Johnson was advised to "[E]mphasize light at the end of the tunnel instead of battles, deaths, and danger." "There are ways," Johnson was told, "of guiding the press to show light at the end of the tunnel" (quoted in Larry Berman, Lyndon Johnson's War). To head this effort, Johnson brought General William Westmoreland, commander of American forces in Vietnam, to Washington. Westmoreland addressed the National Press Club saying that the U.S. had reached the point "where the end comes into view" (Berman).


General William Westmoreland
Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
Date 1 January 1969
Source defenseimagery.mil
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Vietcong suspect
A Marine from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines
A search and clear operation
15 miles west of Da Nang Air Base
Date 08/03/1965
Source NARA
Author US Marine Corps /PFC G. Durbin
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Vietnamese Peasants suspected of being communists
Date ca. 1966
Source Library of Congress 'Country Studies Series'
Author U.S. Army Photograph


Dropping bombs on North Vietnam, June 14, 1966
A U.S. B-66 Destroyer and four F-105 Thunderchiefs
National Archives and Records Administration
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Seal team Assault Boat (STAB)
Members of U.S. Navy Seal Team One
River south of Saigon, 11/1967
Source NARA
Author J.D. Randal, JO1
Department of Defense
Department of the Navy
Naval Photographic Center.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


In the wake of this effort, public support of Lyndon Johnson rose. The effects of this effort would be short-lived however. On January 21, 1968, North Vietnamese regular forces launched an attack on the American installation at Khe Sahn, a remote outpost. The attack conjured up fears, especially for LBJ, of Dien Bien Phu and American forces were ordered to hold the base. The seige lasted for over two months and the North Vietnamese were eventually turned back after the base was reinforced in April of 1968.
Khe Sahn was just a prelude however. One of the most controversial interludes of the war began on January 31st, 1968. Early that morning, the North Vietnamese regular army and the Viet Cong launched what came to be called the TET (New Year) offensive. These forces attacked over 100 cities in South Vietnam including 35 of 44 provincial capitals. The offensive included Saigon, the South Vietnamese capital, as Viet Cong guerillas penetrated the U.S. Embassy compound.


Some Viet Cong targets during the Tet Offensive
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


South Vietnamese troops in action
Tan Son Nhut Air Base
From "The General Offensives of 1968-69"
By Colonel Hoang Ngoc Lung
U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1981


In light of the "PR Campaign" of November 1967, the TET offensive came as a shock. How could, critics asked, the enemy mount such a campaign if the war was being won? The fighting continued into February. In January 1968, the number of US troops killed in action was 1,163; the death toll increased to 2,197 in February; in the next three months, another 5,000 would loose their lives in battle.


Battle of Hamo Village During the Tet Offensive
US Marines and ARVN troops
defend a position against enemy attack
Date ca. January 1968
Source National Archives and Records Administration
Author Department of Defense
Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


TET also elevated a debate that began early in the war. In a sense, Vietnam was the first televised or "living room" war. Each evening, the networks would show film of the fighting that was, at times, gruesome. Unlike the practice during World War II, the film was neither censored nor subject to any systematic scrutiny by the government. Thus, the public was shown scenes of battles in progress, the dead and wounded, and the coffins of the dead being unloaded. One of the more shocking photographs of the war occurred during the TET offensive. A Viet Cong terrorist was captured by South Vietnamese military officials and summarily executed in the streets of Saigon.
As the TET offensive continued into February, the anchorman for the CBS evening news, Walter Cronkite, traveled to Vietnam and filed several reports. Upon his return, Cronkite took an unprecedented step of presenting his "editorial opinion" at the end of the news broadcast on February 27th. "For it seems now more certain than ever," Cronkite said, "that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate." After watching Cronkite's broadcast, LBJ was quoted as saying. "That's it. If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."


CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite
"the most trusted man in America,"
conducts an interview in Hue, February 1968.
U.S. Marine Corps photo
Boston Publishing Company, 1983
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The TET offensive remains a matter of controversy to this day. Militarily, the American forces repelled the attacks and retook the cities initially occupied by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. Critics argue that this was not emphasized in media reports so that TET was framed and interpreted as, at minimum, a "psychological defeat." Others assert that there was a disjuncture between the optimism of the administration's PR in late 1967 and the coordinated enemy attacks of January-February 1968.


Saigon Viet Cong dead after an attack
Perimeter of Tan Son Nhut Air Base
1 February 1968
Source Vietnam Center and Archive
Author Photo by: SP5 Edgar Price Pictorial
A.V. Plt. 69th Sig. Bn



U.S. Marines advance past an M48 Patton tank
The battle for Hue
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The ruins of Civilians homes in Cholon
heavily damaged Chinese section of Saigon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


One thing is certain. TET had a substantial impact on American public opinion.
TET also had an impact within the Administration. In its wake, President Johnson refused the request for a substantial troop increase from General Westmoreland and initiated a reconsideration of his policy of escalation. Finally, TET took a personal and emotional toll on LBJ himself. In the face of a challenge for renomination by Senators Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota and Robert Kennedy of New York, LBJ addressed a national television audience on March 31. After discussing Vietnam, he announced that he would not seek nor would he accept the nomination for another term as president. Johnson was withdrawing from the race.


President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam
standing in front of world map
meeting with Lyndon B. Johnson in Hawaii
Date 19 July 1968
Source Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum
Author Yoichi R. Okamoto


Lyndon Johnson meets with Presidential candidate Richard Nixon
The White House, July 26, 1968.
Author: Yoichi Okamoto
Credit: Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
Source teachpol.tcnj.edu


Politically, the toll of Vietnam is also evident in path of public support for President Johnson from January 1965 through the end of December in 1968. The mounting casualties, along with domestic unrest, had a most corrosive impact on the president's support. In retirement, LBJ spoke of this. He referred to his Great Society program as a "beautiful woman" and noted that she was gradually replaced by the "bitch" that was the Vietnam War.
(All Text & Analysis, Copyright ©, August 2002, Dennis M. Simon)
By the beginning of 1968 the United States had been involved in military operations in Vietnam for over seven years and in major ground combat for two-and-a-half years. In-country U.S. military strength had risen to 485,000, and General William C. Westmoreland had been using his troops aggressively in all parts of South Vietnam to pursue the enemy’s main forces and to help shield the population from enemy attack.


Women and children in My Lai, Vietnam
shortly before US soldiers shot and killed them
Date 16 March 1968
Source "Report of the Department of Army review
The preliminary investigations into the My Lai incident
Volume III, Exhibits, Book 6 - Photographs, 14 March 1970"
From the Library of Congress, Military Legal Resources.
Author Ronald L. Haeberle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The My Lai Massacre was the mass murder conducted by a unit of the U.S. Army on March 16, 1968 of 347 to 504 unarmed citizens in South Vietnam, all of whom were civilians and majority of whom were women, children, and elderly people.
Many of the victims were sexually abused, beaten, tortured, and some of the bodies were found mutilated. The massacre took place in the hamlets of Mỹ Lai and My Khe of Sơn Mỹ village during the Vietnam War. While 26 US soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at My Lai, only William Calley was convicted. He served only three years of an original life sentence, while on house arrest.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Unidentified Vietnamese man and child killed by US soldiers
16 March 1968
Source "Report of Army review into My Lai incident"
Book 6, 14 March 1970
Author Ronald L. Haeberle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Unidentified bodies near burning house
My Lai, Vietnam. March 16, 1968
Author Ronald Haeberle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Carter shot himself in the foot during the My Lai massacre
Date 16 March 1968
Source "Report of the Department of Army review"
The preliminary investigations into the My Lai incident.
From the Library of Congress, Military Legal Resources
Author Ronald L. Haeberle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Burning a Vietnamese dwelling
Date 16 March 1968
Source "Report of Army review into My Lai incident"
Author Ronald L. Haeberle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


U.S. and allied forces had conducted hundreds of operations both large and small, and some forty of that number had each achieved a verified body count of 500 or more enemy soldiers. According to MACV estimates, 81,000 Communist soldiers had been killed in 1967, giving substance to Westmoreland’s belief that the allies were slowing winning the war in Vietnam.
Influencing all parts of this struggle to hold the South was a new defense policy enunciated by Richard M. Nixon, who became President in January 1969. The Nixon Doctrine hearkened back to the precepts of the New Look, placing greater reliance on nuclear retaliation, encouraging allies to accept a larger share of their own defense burden, and barring the use of U.S. ground forces in limited wars in Asia, unless vital national interests were at stake. Under this policy, American ground forces in South Vietnam, once withdrawn, were unlikely to return. For President Thieu in Saigon, the future was inauspicious. For the time being, large numbers of American forces were still present to bolster his country’s war effort; what would happen when they departed, no one knew.
The U.S. troop withdrawals began in the summer of 1969, when two brigades of the 9th Infantry Division pulled out of III and IV Corps and a regiment of the 3d Marine Division departed from northern I Corps. These units were selected because they were considered first-rate and would consequently make the reduction in forces credible to all concerned—not just to the governments in Hanoi and Saigon but also to the American public. The 9th Division was chosen, according to General Abrams, because the war south of Saigon had been a South Vietnamese affair for years and was apparently going well. The marines would be leaving their area of operations to the best South Vietnamese division, the 1st Infantry Division, and to the remainder of their parent Marine unit, now reinforced along the demilitarized zone by the heavy brigade of the U.S. Army’s 5th Division.
The lifeline of the Communist war effort in South Vietnam, the Ho Chi Minh Trail grew from a network of footpaths in 1959 into an all-weather roadway by 1972. Beginning in southern North Vietnam, the trail wound through Laos and northern Cambodia, with spurs branching into each of almost two-dozen base areas along the border. During the war the United States bombed the trail in an unsuccessful attempt to stanch the flow of enemy troops and material.


Vietnamese and Laotian coolies took supplies
south on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (1959)
Source Stanley Karnow, Vietnam, A History
Author Unknown
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Jacob Van Staaveren: Interdiction in Southern Laos
Washington DC: Center of Air Force History, 1993
Source Originally from en.wikipedia
Author Original uploader RM Gillespie at en.wikipedia


According to Communist accounts, between 1959 and 1975, over 915,000 men and almost 1million tons of supplies arrived in South Vietnam via the Ho Chin Minh Trail. Keeping the trail open was one of the key elements of North Vietnamese victory.


MEKONG DELTA, Vietnam
A South Vietnamese Air Force UH-1 helicopter
Date 18 July 1970
Source af.mil
Author Department of Defense photo
by Sgt. Robert W. Ingianni
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


By November 1971, when the 101st Airborne Division withdrew from South Vietnam, North Vietnam was preparing for its 1972 spring offensive. With the South’s combat capacity diminished and nearly all U.S. combat troops gone, the North sensed an opportunity to demonstrate the failure of Vietnamization, hasten the South Vietnamese Army’s collapse, and revive the stalled peace talks. In its broad outlines and goals, the 1972 offensive resembled Tet 1968, except that the North Vietnamese Army, instead of the Viet Cong, bore the major burden of combat. The allies had plenty of warning of an impending attack. In December U.S. intelligence had started detecting enemy concentrations of armor and artillery farther south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail than ever before encountered, and analysts had also noted a dramatic increase in the number of North Vietnamese soldiers infiltrating into the South.
By mid-January 1972, it was predicted that a major conventional attack in which massed enemy formations and enemy armor and artillery operating in the open would play the decisive role. This gave confidence to those officials who believed in the efficacy of U.S. air power. In fact, as the winter wore on, air power advocates felt that a succession of “protective reaction” air strikes President Nixon had authorized in December had actually forestalled the expected offensive. While this point was controversial, all did agree that U.S. ground forces in Vietnam were no longer in a position to exercise influence over the battlefield. By March 1972 total military strength in the South had fallen to about 100,000, with one brigade, the 196th Light Infantry, at Da Nang, another, the 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, at Bien Hoa. The task of countering any offensive on the ground would fall almost exclusively to the South Vietnamese.
In the aftermath the governments in Saigon and Hanoi both claimed victory, but the balance had not been significantly altered. On one side of the ledger were the declines in rural security wherever North Vietnamese divisions had forced their way into South Vietnam.
President Nixon’s resumption of the bombing of North Vietnam during the Easter offensive and, for the first time, his mining of North Vietnamese ports, gave confidence to the belief that the South Vietnamese could count on U.S. air support in the years ahead.
In early 1973 the United States, North and South Vietnam, and the Viet Cong signed an armistice that promised a cease-fire and national reconciliation. In fact, fighting continued; but MACV was dissolved, remaining U.S. forces withdrawn, and American military action in South Vietnam terminated. Perhaps most important of all, American advisers—still in many respects the backbone of the South Vietnamese Army’s command structure—were withdrawn.


Viet Cong soldiers and injured American POW
CPT David Earle Baker
Captured 27 June 72
Date 12 February 1973
Source High resolution download from defenseimagery.mi
Author SSGT Herman Kokojan
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Between 1973 and 1975, South Vietnam’s military security declined through a combination of old and new factors. Plagued by poor maintenance and shortages of spare parts, much of the advanced equipment provided South Vietnam’s forces under Vietnamization became inoperable. A rise in fuel prices stemming from a worldwide oil crisis further restricted the South Vietnamese military’s use of vehicles and aircraft. Government forces in many areas of the country were on the defensive, confined to protecting key towns and installations. Seeking to preserve its diminishing assets, the South Vietnamese Army became garrison bound and either reluctant or unable to react to a growing number of guerrilla attacks that eroded rural security. Congressionally mandated reductions in U.S. aid further reduced the delivery of spare parts, fuel, and ammunition. American military activities in Cambodia and Laos, which had continued after the cease-fire in South Vietnam went into effect, ended in 1973 when Congress cut off funds. Complaining of this austerity, President Thieu noted that he had to fight a “poor man’s war.” Vietnamization’s legacy was that South Vietnam had to do more with less.
(US Army Center of Military History)
South Vietnamese troops reported that 55 soldiers have been killed in two clashes with communist forces. Claiming that the war had "restarted," South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu asserted, "We cannot allow the communists a situation in which...they can launch harassing attacks against us," and ordered his forces to launch a counter-offensive to retake lost territory. The announcement essentially marked the end of attempts to adhere to the agreements of the Paris Peace Accords.
A cease-fire had been initiated in Vietnam on January 28, 1973, under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords. These most recent battles were only the latest rounds in ongoing fighting that had followed the brief lull provided by the cease-fire. A large part of the problem was that the Peace Accords had left an estimated 200,000 North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. Renewed fighting broke out after the cease-fire as both sides jockeyed for control of territory in South Vietnam. Each side held that military operations were justified by the other side's violations of the cease-fire. What resulted was an almost endless chain of retaliations.
During the period between the initiation of the cease-fire and the end of 1973, there were an average of 2,980 combat incidents per month in South Vietnam. Most of these were generally low-intensity harassing attacks by the North Vietnamese designed to wear down the South Vietnamese forces, but the communists intensified their efforts in the Central Highlands in September when they attacked government positions with tanks west of Pleiku. As a result of these post-cease-fire actions, the South Vietnamese lost an estimated 25,473 soldiers in battle in 1973.
(© 1996-2008, A&E Television Networks at history.com)
In 1975 North Vietnam’s leaders began planning for a new offensive, still uncertain whether the United States would resume bombing or once again intervene in the South. When their forces overran Phuoc Long Province, north of Saigon, without any American military reaction, they decided to proceed with a major offensive in the Central Highlands. Neither President Nixon, weakened by the Watergate scandal and forced to resign, nor his successor, Gerald R. Ford, was prepared to challenge Congress by resuming U.S. military activity in Southeast Asia. The will of Congress seemed to reflect the mood of an American public weary of the long and inconclusive war.
What had started as a limited offensive in the highlands now became an all-out effort to conquer South Vietnam. Thieu, desiring to husband his military resources, decided to retreat rather than to reinforce the Central Highlands. The result was panic among his troops and a mass exodus toward the coast. As North Vietnamese forces spilled out of the Central Highlands, they cut off South Vietnamese defenders in the northern provinces from the rest of the country. Other North Vietnamese units now crossed the demilitarized zone, quickly overrunning Hue and Da Nang and signaling the collapse of South Vietnamese resistance in the north. Hurriedly established defense lines around Saigon held back the enemy offensive against the capital for a while, but not for long. As South Vietnamese leaders waited in vain for American assistance, Saigon fell to the Communists on April 30, 1975.
The time South Vietnamese forces bought near Saigon allowed the United States to complete a final evacuation from the capital. All day long on the twenty-ninth of April, Air Force and Marine Corps helicopters shuttled nearly 7,000 people, including the American ambassador, to U.S. Navy ships waiting off shore. Among the 5,600 non-American evacuees were South Vietnamese who were related to Americans or who faced a doubtful future because of the work they had done in Vietnam for U.S. agencies. Two U.S. marines were killed when North Vietnamese shells struck the compound of the former MACV headquarters that was serving as an evacuation site. Two pilots died when their helicopter went down at sea. These were the final U.S. casualties in Vietnam while the war still raged. When the last helicopter lifted off from the American embassy the next morning, taking with it a contingent of marine guards, the long American war for Vietnam came to a close.


South Vietnamese Refugees
Boarding Last Flight out of Nha Trang, March of 1975
Jean-Claude Francolon / Getty Images
©2009 About.com


Saigon’s fall was a bitter end to the long American effort to sustain South Vietnam. Ranging from advice and support to direct participation in combat and involving nearly 3 million U.S. servicemen, the effort failed to stop Communist leaders from reaching their goal of unifying a divided nation. South Vietnam’s military defeat tended to obscure the crucial inability of this massive military enterprise to compensate for South Vietnam’s political shortcomings. Over a span of two decades, a series of regimes had failed to mobilize fully and effectively their nation’s political, social, and economic resources to foster a popular base of support. North Vietnamese conventional units ended the war, but insurgency and disaffection among the people of the South made that outcome possible.
For the U.S. Army the scars of the war ran even deeper than the grim statistics showed. Given its long association with South Vietnam’s fortunes, the Army could not escape being tarnished by its ally’s fall. The loss compounded already unsettling questions about the Army’s role in Southeast Asia, about the soundness of its advice to the South Vietnamese, about its understanding of the nature of the war, about the appropriateness of its strategy and tactics, and about the adequacy of the counsel Army leaders provided to US decision makers. Marked by ambiguous military objectives and defensive strategy, sometimes ponderous tactics, and untidy command arrangements, the struggle in Vietnam seemed to violate most of the time-honored principles of war. Many officers sought to erase Vietnam from the Army’s corporate memory, feeling uncomfortable with failure or believing that the lessons and experience of the war were of little use to the post-Vietnam Army. Although a generation of officers, including many of the Army’s future leaders, cut their combat teeth in Vietnam, many regretted that the Army’s reputation, integrity, and professionalism had been tainted in the service of a flawed strategy and a dubious ally.
(US Army Center of Military History)


Vietnam War Memorial in Houston, Texas, United States
Source Own work
Author WhisperToMe
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Twenty years after the end of the Vietnam War, the government disclosed Monday April 3, 1995 that 1.1 million Communist fighters died and 600,000 were wounded in 21 years of conflict.
The casualties included Viet Cong guerrillas who operated in South Vietnam and professional North Vietnamese soldiers who aided them.
Previous estimates in the West said the Communist forces lost about 666,000. During the war, North Vietnam played down its losses to boost morale at home and discourage South Vietnam and the United States.
Nearly 58,200 U.S. soldiers were killed and 223,748 South Vietnamese died. More than 5,200 South Koreans, Australians, New Zealanders and Thai soldiers who fought on the southern side also were killed.
The figures, published by the official Vietnam News Agency, were the first Vietnam has made public.
Other figures showed nearly 2 million civilians were killed in the North and South and an equal number were injured. About 50,000 children were born deformed, allegedly because of the U.S. use of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange.
(The Virginian Pilot quoted THE LEDGER-STAR Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc)

Pictures from The War remnants Museum:

Photo of Vietnamese school children
American weapons used during the Vietnam war
The American (Vietnam) War Remnants Museum
DownTheRoad.org


I WAS WRONG
I AM SORRY
highly decorated army sergeant returned his medals
told the Vietnamese people that he was wrong and sorry
The American (Vietnam) War Remnants Museum
DownTheRoad.org


Bicycle Iron Horses
The Ho Chi Minh Trail
The American (Vietnam) War Remnants Museum
DownTheRoad.org


American soldier with charred remains of a VC soldier
burned to death by a Napalm Bomb
The American (Vietnam) War Remnants Museum
DownTheRoad.org


American helicopter with rocket launcher
The American (Vietnam) War Remnants Museum
DownTheRoad.org


American tank on display
The American (Vietnam) War Remnants Museum
DownTheRoad.org


Pic of American M16 rifle
held against a civilian woman's head
DownTheRoad.org


About the Vietnam War (1960-1975):
A Vietnam War Timeline The Causes of the Vietnam War Maps of Vietnam The Military and Diplomatic Course of the War A Vietnam Photo Essay African Americans in the Vietnam War The Domestic Course of the War The Anti-War Movement in the U.S. The Postwar Impact of Vietnam Changing Interpretations of the War Poetry and Vietnam
Prepared and Compiled by Cary Nelson
Modern American Poetry Home


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