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Military History Chapter 21 Vietnam War

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Title: Military History Chapter 21 Vietnam War


1
Military HistoryChapter 21Vietnam War
2
Vietnam War- Strategic Overview
  • Vietnam was longest US combat deployment (so
    far)
  • US combat units fought hostile actions (1965-72)
  • SOF also involved before after that (1961-73)
  • Military advisor role started in 1959
  • But no fixed date of start of US involvement
  • No Lexington Concord or Pearl Harbor
  • or New York Trade Center Towers
  • US entered left incrementally
  • In series of incremental steps gt 1950s-1970s
  • Successive US Administrations actively
    participated in the War
  • From Truman to Nixon
  • All tried to save Vietnam from Communist
    take-over (as part of Containment Policy)
  • All would ultimately fail

3
Lay of the Land
4
Brief Historical Outline
  • Truman (May 1950)gt authorized Mil to aid
    Frenchgt
  • preserve post-WW2 French Indochina colonies
    (image)
  • Ike continued US support, even following Dien
    Bien Phu
  • Aim build Vn Nation out of diverse political
    factions
  • After French defeat, US took control of bad
    situation
  • Deployed military advisors to build SVNs
    military
  • Tasked CIA to conduct psychological war against
    NVN
  • JFK tripled aid to SVN increased military
    advisors
  • Early 61 secretly deployed 400 SF 30 Navy
    SEALs
  • Tasked to advise ARVN SVN Navy CI tactics
    techniques
  • Covert direct action against North Vietnam (Oplan
    34A) VC in South
  • By Nov 63 16,300 advisors operate thru-out N/S
    Vietnam

5
Johnsons War
  • After JFKs assassination, LBJ took over war
  • Determined not to lose Vietnam like Truman
    lost China
  • Embarked on a limited war strategy to convince
    NVN to cease infiltration of South Vietnam
  • After Tonkin Gulf incident its resolution in
    Aug 1964
  • LBJ secured Congress support (as equivalent of
    war)
  • Authorized by resolution to take all necessary
    actions
  • Following his 1964 re-election, LBJ did just that
  • Result US military commitment intensified
    incrementally
  • LBJ personally directed sustained bombing of
    targets in NVN
  • Mar 65gt Rolling Thunder begangt would last
    until 31Oct68
  • US also deployed first combat units (USMC) in
    March 1965
  • US took over war from 65-69 when force levels
    peak _at_ 543K

6
Statistics Vietnam Syndrome
  • Statistic totals 2.7M served in Vietnam gt 1.6
    in combat
  • 58K KIA 300,000 WIA, approx 2500 remain MIA
  • US spent between 140B to 175B on the war
  • American outlook deeply influenced by Vietnam
    War
  • Future Presidential Foreign Policy decisions
    affected as result
  • Vietnam syndrome hovered always in background
    to present
  • Not since Civil War has a conflict divided US
    society so
  • Americas first war ever lost
  • Humiliating political defeat for USG institutions
  • Especially for the US military- long time to
    recover
  • VN vets came home as Nation tried to forget
    move on
  • VN Vets were ignored at best blamed for war at
    worst

7
Vietnams History of Peoples War
  • Vietnam has had a long tradition of war
    against outsiders
  • rebellion against China the Trung sisters
  • Later Trieu Au would lead another revolt in 248
    AD
  • 10th century defeated Chinas Fleet won
    independence
  • 13th century Vietnam repulsed Kublai Khan 3
    times
  • In process became experts in employing GW gt
  • Stressed protracted war to wear a superior
    military power down
  • Raid ambush tactics on the enemys
    over-extended LOCs
  • Outlined in Daos Essential Summary of Military
    Arts
  • Strategy drew enemy into protracted campaign to
    wear him down
  • (Also applied these techniques to 1st 2nd
    Indo-China wars)

8
Historical Experience with Outside Threats
  • Vietnams defeat of Mongols Chinesegt
  • Now key part of Vietnams martial tradition
    history
  • i.e. struggle resistance against superior
    outside forces
  • All became part of Vietnams military heritage
  • (In addition to Vietnams civil war that soon
    followed)
  • French involvement came in late 1850s
  • Vn persecuted Fr Euro missionaries their
    converts
  • Gradually (late 1800s) gt Fr establish expand
    their colonies
  • French then expanded throughout all of Indo-China
    gt
  • Also suppressed Vietnams civil war in process

9
On Protracted War An Overview
  • Maos Guerilla War model
  • On Protracted War
  • Vietnam drew heavily on Maos model for war
  • Model instructed followers to proceed by 3
    stages
  • 1st - defensive stage
  • survive, establish base gain peoples support
  • conduct hit run raids ambush of soft targets
  • 2nd - equilibrium
  • gradually expand offensive campaigns gt
  • stage larger battles of a more conventional
    nature
  • 3rd - Counter-Offensive
  • Incorporate conventional military ops with
    guerilla warfare
  • Then ramp up to full scale conventional war
    (when ready)

10
First Indo-China War
  • WW2 Japan occupied controlled
    Vietnam since 1940
  • Vietnamese allied with China to fight Japanese
    (GW)
  • Following Japans defeat, Ho Chi Minh
    asserted his leadership
  • Led coalition of Communists Nationalists
  • Declared Vietnam independence on 2Sept45
  • Began talks with French
  • But both sides failed to agree on basic strategic
    aims
  • Nov46gt Viet Minh attacked French garrisons gt
  • 1st Indochina war began gt would last 8 yrs
    (1946-54)

11
Escalation to Major Battle
  • Jan48 Viet Minh begin 2nd stage
  • Expand military operations
  • Conduct bigger battles against French
  • Meanwhile (late 49)gt China became Communist
    state under Mao
  • Resultgt China provides Vietnam with economic
    political support
  • Also sanctuaries within Chinas sovereign
    territory
  • 1951 Vietnam launched stage 3 prematurely
  • Result suffers major conventional defeat
  • Temporary set back for Viet Minh
  • 1953 at Chinas insistence Vn lures French
    Commander (Navarre) into
  • Plain of Reeds gt near a place called (?)
  • ?_______ __________ ____________

12
Dien Bien Phu (Nov53-May54)
  • Gen Navarre established several strong French
    Firebases on surrounding hills near main base
  • All manned by paratroops Fr Foreign Legion
  • supplied thru airstrip by airlift
  • 1954 Chinese press Vietnamese to act decisively
  • Giap orders arty/ammo towed into surrounding mtns
  • Complete surprise (operational and tactical
    surprise)
  • Viet Minh bombard French outposts from mountain
    sites
  • Paratroops forced to abandon outposts 1 by 1 gt
  • 13Mar54 Beatrice falls within hours of attack
  • Gabrielle Anne Marie overrun during next 2 days
  • Impact denied French airfield- key to French
    defense
  • Reinforcement re-supply (also Fr arty
    suppressed)

13
Dien Bien Phu (final assault)
  • Remaining outposts must be re-supplied by airdrop
    (men/supplies)
  • Drops inaccurate (high altitude drops due to Vn
    AAA)
  • French situation now desperate
  • French government requests US help
  • Ike refuses to send US troops or tactical Nukes
  • Many French Foreign Legion troops desert
  • Hide in caves along Nam Yum scavenge for food
  • Paratroopers left to fight alone until the end
  • 7 May54 Last French position overrun
  • Fr survivors marched into captivity humiliation
  • At on going Peace talks in Geneva
  • French must now accept distasteful political
    terms
  • Unfavorable terms a direct result of French
    tactical defeat
  • US must now take up containment directly

14
Expanded US involvement
  • By 54 US paying close to 80 of Wars cost
  • French viewed as containing communism in Asia
  • Ike refused to sign Geneva Accords
  • Rejects VNs temporary 2 year partition at 17th
    parallel
  • Wary of nation wide elections to determine fate
    in 1956
  • Well aware of who is most likely to win (who?)
  • Instead US used 2 yr time to back separate
    non-communist Government below 17th parallel
  • Government in South to be led by who?
  • ?________ ______ ________- a Catholic
  • What is the faith of Vietnam majority?
  • ?_________________
  • 1956 elections overwhelmingly
    favor Ho Chi Minh
  • Vote results ignored by US new RVN Gov

15
Second Indochina War
  • Following South Vietnam refusal to allow free
    electiongt
  • Ho Chi Minh began modernization of his forces
  • Prepares to deploy NVN advisors south
  • Begins armed struggle in South Vietnam (SVN)
  • Diem starts search to rout out Viet Minh south in
    1956
  • Included all viewed as opposed to his rule
  • i.e. All non-Catholics minorities alike
  • By 57 Viet Minh in South close
    to all but eliminated
  • Result Viet Minh launched major rebellion
    against Diems Government
  • Initiate guerilla warfare, intelligence ops,
    propaganda
  • Focus develop support base in rural villages
  • Diems harsh policies facilitate Viet Minh efforts

16
Violence Escalates
  • Raids assassinations escalate between 1958 gt
    1960
  • 1958 700 gov. officials killed
  • 1960 2500 killed
  • By 1960 National
    Liberation Front (NLF) established
  • (Political arm of Viet Minh rebellion)
  • By Dec63 PAVN (NVA) escalated
    infiltration/support to Viet Minh
  • Ho Chi Minh Trail established
  • NVN sends men supplies south
  • By 1965 full blown insurgency was established in
    SVN
  • US concludes Diems regime will fall without
    direct military support

17
NLFs War Aims Strategy
  • Political Aim
  • Unite South under NVN government of Ho Chi Minh
  • NLF Grand Strategy
  • Combine political military aspects of struggle
  • Undermine SVN political military positions
  • Rally people popular support for NLF cause
  • Political Tactics
  • Conduct Agitprop
  • Tactical focus village level
  • Establish a tight political military structure
  • By63 NLF was successful gt
  • Signed up 300K supporters in countryside

18
NLF Military Strategy Tactics
  • Tactics formulated to serve strategic political
    ends
  • 1st stage hit run raids just survive
  • Targets selected for maximum psychological impact
  • Assassination target most effective most
    despised
  • Mayors, village chiefs, teachers
  • Ambush ARVN troops government strategic Hamlets
  • Sabotage commercial transport infrastructure
  • Strategic Objective
  • Provoke government to react w/repressive actions
  • Aim alienate the very people government is
    suppose to protect
  • Demonstrate to people ineffectiveness of Gov
    efforts

19
Chinese Tactical Model
  • By65 PAVN provided direct support to SVN
    insurgents
  • Employed Chinese model, tactics, techniques
  • Totaled 500K troops with 500K in reserve
  • Divisions comprised 10K Troops
  • Used 7.62 AK-47s w/3-5 grenades each member
  • 3 infantry regiments in South
  • Weapons company attached 60/82 mm mortars
  • 57/75mm recoilless rifles, RPGs Machine Guns
  • Train extensively in night ops effective
    concealment
  • Small unit tactics employing stealth
  • Meticulous planning full scale rehearsals
  • Detailed withdrawal plans back-up contingencies
  • Preposition supplies ammo escape routes

20
Tactical Focus
  • Bottom line
  • a well respected opponent
  • NVA soldier was good, dedicated,
  • Well trained highly motivated troop
  • Extensive training battlefield prep
  • NVA tactics doctrines focus
  • Raid ambushgt (became experts at)
  • Small unit mobility to minimize US technology
  • Extreme close contact
  • (often at Danger Close ranges)
  • Concentrate on weak point, overwhelm encircle
  • Then quickly withdraw gt rarely held territory
  • Key Lesson Learned
  • Never follow a blood trail why?
    ?_________________

21
US Counter Insurgency (CI) Limited War
  • US foreign policy (FP) focused on Containment
  • Halt communist expansion directed from Moscow
  • Main focus of US FP throughout Cold War (CW)
  • Vietnam War viewed as just another communist
    threat of attempted expansion
  • Specific attempt at communist expansion in SE
    Asia
  • Ho Chi Minh NVN inspired by Moscow Beijing
  • During60sgt Vietnam became test
    case for JFKs CI doctrine
  • JFK campaigned to replace

    Ikes massive retaliationgt
  • Replacement National Security Strategy?

22
Result Flexible Response
  • JFK placed major emphasis on CI
  • To counter Maos guerilla warfare in SE Asia
  • Carried out by SOF advisors
  • 400 SF 30 SEALs May 1961
  • 16,300 military advisors by Nov 1963
  • Also JFK ordered covert actions against NVN
  • (OPLAN 34A) by SOG Teams
  • CI Strategy against NLF
  • Build-up of military support to ARVN
  • APCs, CV air support, Helos, TACAIR
  • SF advisors conducted training civic action
  • US Helo support to ARVN
  • Infiltration/extraction Medivac
  • Direct support, to include advising SVN SOF
    teams into enemy held areas

23
Strategic Hamlet Program
  • Another attempt to protect people from insurgents
    by isolating them
  • Theory serve as instrument of social reform
    security
  • Attract the people to SVN gov programs
  • Convince peasant SVN gov better than NLF
  • Objective relegate insurgents to outlaw status
  • Lose support of masses gt force revised NLF aims
  • Return insurgent to Survival mode (stage 1)
  • Reality program failed in both concept
    execution
  • Dislocated peasants from village bred resentment
  • SVN Government (not NLF) viewed as bad guy
  • Poor security gt vulnerable villages easy to
    overrun

24
Factors in Failure
  • Result opposite of desired government objective
  • Peoples discontent rose while security safety
    fell
  • Atrocious execution by Nhu alienated peasants
  • Another factor conventional military mindset
  • Conventional US Army leaders resisted CI
  • Did not support CI concept
  • Conflict in philosophies of war Clausewitz vs.
    Sun Tzu
  • Conventional military preferred conventional
    methods
  • Bigger better mindset employing modern weapons
  • Even though jungle warfare very tough environment
  • Conventional infantry armor profile ineffective
  • Tactical surprise unlikely operational surprise
    hard

25
Battle of Ap Bac (2 Jan 1963)
  • LTC John Paul Vann
  • Pressed IV Corps tactical zone Cmdr MG Cao, Col
    Dam, Cmdr of 7th ARVN, to attack 3
    VC radio companies (350 men)
    near hamlet of Ap Bac
  • Located 65 KM southwest of Saigon in the Mekong
    Delta
  • Plan 3 pronged pincer attack from different
    directions by 3 Battalions of 7th Infantry,
  • Supported by regional units, 13 APCs
    (3500 men), ABN US Helos (CH-21s UH-1s)
  • Objective Surprise overwhelm enemy with numbers

26
Execution
  • Execution badly flawed
  • ARVN commander delayed attack too long
  • Allowed enemy to discover Cmdrs intent
  • Time to prepare defense to receive attack
  • No tactical surprise gt
  • First sign of resistance ARVN froze
  • 1 prong of offense refused to even attack
  • Remaining units purposely failed to block enemys
    escape
  • Result numerous ARVN casualties (friendly fire)
  • 61 KIA 100 WIA
  • Viet Cong slip away undetected (3 KIA)
  • Victory claimed anyway (why?)
  • Rationale conventionally- held ground
  • ARVN performance does not bold well for future

27
Tonkin Gulf Incident
  • SVN maritime sea commandos advisors
  • Conduct sea-borne raids on NVN radar
  • Raids conducted in/around Tonkin gulf op area
  • Objective
  • Force NVN to light off radars ELINT
  • Permit US DDs w/special ELINT collection
  • NVN Response
  • Torpedo boats attack SVN commandos
  • SOF insertion craft (NASTIES) in vicinity
  • NVN craft see US DD Maddox
    engage
  • Result 3 enemy PT sunk or damaged
  • 2 days later- NVN PT appear to fire on US DDs
  • USS Maddox Turner Joy call for CV air CAS
  • Who find nothing

28
Tonkin Gulf Resolution
  • Capt of USS Maddox not sure second
    NVN attack actually occurred, but...
  • Files report to CINCPAC via chain of command
  • LBJ sees opportunity to exploit NVN attack
  • Applies much political pressure to confirm attack
  • Meanwhilegt Admin prepared draft resolution for
    Congress
  • Resolved for President to take all action
    necessary
  • Protect US forces its allies
  • While Navy still try to figure out what really
    occurred
  • LBJ exploits incident Tonkin Gulf Resolution
  • Passed unanimously by House all but 2 in Senate
  • (Just as administration drafted it) gt
    significance?
  • Future impact on US involvement?

29
NLF Threat Grows
  • By 1965 gt NLF secured Mekong Delta (Map) gt
  • Appeared to have gained both
    momentum initiative, especially in the Delta
  • Appeared to US that SVN Gov
    about to fail
  • US concluded it must send massive assistance to
    prevent its collapse
  • Specially configured armored
    landing craft were deployed

30
Operation Rolling Thunder (Mar65- Nov68)
  • Mar 65 (after LBJ safely re-elected)gt US
    strikes
  • Launched massive strategic bombing of North
  • Longest sustained air bombing campaign in US
    history
  • Targets primarily along northern areas of DMZ
  • Included bridges, railheads, logistic supply
    dumps
  • Also re-supply routes along Ho Chi Minh Trail

31
Major US Ground Combat Introduced
  • LBJ also deployed USMC to DaNang in late July65
  • Two Battalion Landing Teams waded
    ashore
  • Prepare to conduct active forward defense
    search destroy ops
  • From then on, US begins to take direct control
    of war gt
  • Major ground combat key battles conducted by US
  • More US combat units deploy
  • ARVN relegated primarily to garrison defense
    duties as the US directly takes over the War

32
Theory Practice of Limited War
  • Flexible Response (review)
  • Tailored action required only to meet political
    aim
  • Avoids dilemma of massive retaliation as only
    option
  • Result military instruments limited to minimum
    needed to send the enemy a message
  • Target hit to modify enemys behavior (political
    end)
  • Limited War theories civilian theorists
  • Flexible Response provided basis of limited war
    theories
  • Ltd War Theories provide set of broad guidelines
  • Focused on attaining US political objectives
  • Military considerations not taken into account
  • Craft military response to send clear signal to
    enemy
  • Convey political intent to attain desired enemy
    response

33
Theory vs. Reality
  • Result in practice
  • Political considerations dominated military
    actions
  • Military responses limited to minimum required
  • Civilian leadership prevalent thru-out all
    operations
  • LBJ selected many of the bomb targets personally
  • Limited geographic battle areas of operations
  • BDA unimportant gtonly political message sent is
    central
  • Theorys Flaw?
  • Reality of war - military factors do count
  • Assumption regarding enemys response
    frictions role?
  • Precision of message sent how it is received
    interpreted
  • How the enemy will respond remains uncertain
  • Gradual escalation in attempt to get desired
    response flawed

34
Modern Hi-tech Military Advances
  • Flexible Response strategy gt conventional forces
  • SECDEF McNamara modernized US forces
  • Established Brush War capability (for Vietnam)
  • USAF USN build-up
  • WWII BBs refitted updated
  • CV/CVN on Yankee Station in Tokin Gulf launch
    F-4/A-4 strikes
  • B-52 (Guam) F105/F-4 (Thailand) Rolling Thunder

35
Weapons Technology Advances
  • High Tech Equipment
  • Radar units small portable developed
  • Sniffers attached to skids of UH-1s to detect
    infiltrators odors
  • Sensors passive transmitters alert SF teams
  • IBM computers predict enemy movements
  • Puff (AC-47 gunships)
  • AFSOC AC-130 Specter Gunships
  • provide devastating fire support

36
Troops, Weapons, Equipment
  • Troops best ever trained equipped to date
  • 1 Million men combat ready divisions expand11
    to 16
  • Airlift equipment stockpiles expanded
  • Army reorganization
  • Task oriented for specific jobs
  • Direct ground support weapons equipment
  • Armor Personnel Carriers
  • Weapon advances (M-60, M-16, Stoner LMG, M-79)
  • Helo its role UH-1, Cobra, CH-47, 1st Air
    Cavalry

37
Next Military History Chapter 21b
Vietnam War (to be continued)
38
Back-up Slides
39
US Combat Units Direct Ground Operations
  • US also deployed first full combat units in March
    1965
  • 3500 USMCs land on DaNang beaches for combat ops
  • Key US threshold passed
  • (Many to follow incrementally)
  • From then until April 1969, US commitment
    gradually increased
  • US ground troop levels combat units grew
    steadily
  • US combat actions rose incrementally for next 4
    yrs
  • Operation Starlite was typical
  • From 65-69 US took over most fighting from ARVN
  • US troop levels peaked at 543,400 troops by early
    1969

40
Conflicting post-War Analysis
  • Several hard lessons were learned as a result of
    Vietnam
  • For somegt we simply backed the wrong horse
  • US Military power support never be enough
    regardlessgt
  • Military pwr couldnt prop up RVNs corrupt
    failed regime
  • Local revolutionary war fought for nationalistic
    political aims
  • Therefore US caught in middle of bitter civil war
  • For others war too hard to win under political
    constraints
  • War considered integral part of global Cold War
    threat
  • Key political concern for LBJ administration
    avoid escalation
  • Both in intensity of fighting geographic region
  • Result US attempted to fight limited
    conventional war
  • Without a coherent realistic operational
    strategy
  • While applying separate poorly chosen tactics to
    support it

41
Serious Strategic Disconnect
  • US approach to war appeared to have serious
    disconnects
  • Political Aims were unrealistic given military
    constraints
  • Operational Strategy poorly matched to those
    strategic aims
  • Tactics employed served a failing strategy
  • Result Tactical success served poor operational
    strategy
  • Which in turn attempted to achieve Unrealistic
    strategic aims gt
  • Which ultimately resulted in political failure at
    the end of the day
  • Political decisions makers failed to realize
    until too late
  • That superior American military power cant make
    up for what?
  • American peoples lack of political will to
    continue war indefinitely!
  • These failures would affect many in different
    ways
  • Including foreign policy decisions taken
    following the Cold War
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