We’ll talk about 1) Background of Vietnam 2) Some important people 3) The relevant Naval operations
It was all about Europe Back as far as Eisenhower, we began to see every Communist-inspired insurgency as a threat A doctrine that got us into a lot of trouble French imperialism in Indochina: Dilemma for U.S. policymakers: Supporting colonialism versus opposing the spread of communism. Vietnam split into North and South at 17th parallel in 1954. Cambodia and Laos become independent states. Viet Cong communist rebels in the South backed by the North.
U.S. support to South Vietnam: Gradual buildup of military / CIA advisors (1954-1963). Opposition to communist incursion from the North. Part of U.S. Cold War “Containment” strategy. Kennedy increases number of U.S. advisors to 9 to 17,000 by 1963, to 23K by ‘64. President Ngo Dien Diem assassinated - military government installed. War on the ground. Marines in Rice paddies fields.
Some important people Johnson is a smart politician He wants to be elected for real in 1964, and he knew that escalating a war was not a good idea He raised advisor number to 23,000 in 1964 and hung out until after the election which he won with the “Great Society” and an unsuccessful tax cut By midsummer 1964, he was ready to escalate the war in Vietnam
Secretary of Defense for Kennedy and Johnson One of Kennedy’s young Irishmen to take over the White House
The incident that set everything off South Vietnamese using OPLAN 34A, which we had approved Bombed a nearby island North Vietnamese attacked the Maddox on 1 Aug. because they thought the Maddox was covering the South Vietnamese We brough the Turner Joy up to escort her, and the N. Vietnamese attached them both on 4 August. McNamara recommends a strike to Johnson, and it goes down on 4 August Constellation and Ticonderoga launched sixty four aircraft to strike at North Vietnam. One aviator died, and one, LTJG Everett Alvarez, Jr., became the first American POW in Hanoi
Johnson gets a blank check out of Congress to attack Vietnam He doesn’t tell them about OPLAN 34A or the Maddox’s mission For the remainder of 1964 Johnson left two carriers from Task Force 77 in the Gulf ot Tonkin standing by to retaliate; the only missions they flew were over South Vietnam.
Army Overall Command: General
(c) 643,000 tons of bombs (more than the 537,000 tons dropped in entire Pacific War) (d) 922 aircraft lost to enemy (e) The liability of POWs in the “Hanoi Hilton!” [significance of Sen. John McCain] High degree of control from above Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp: “It was obvious that our air operations in 1965 had not achieved their goal…We had not forced hanoi to the peace table. We had not scared Hanoi out of the war. We had not caused any diminution whatsoever of his carrying the war into South Vietnam. In fact, the reverse was true.”
A-6 Corsairs dropping over Vietnam… Carrier raids against North Vietnam continue. Ho Chi Minh Trail attacked. Communist line of supply through Cambodia and Laos. Soviet-built SAMs used by the North to counter air strikes. Task Force 77 / Yankee Station: Experiences a high number of losses early in the war. POWs held by North in Hanoi Hilton and other prisons. Vice Admiral James Stockdale - Medal of Honor. Rules of Engagement (ROE): Restrictions on targets from President and Sec of Defense Slowed supply of arms from North to South Vietnam. North Vietnam refuses to negotiate a peace settlement.
F-8 Crusader from the Midway firing.
The EA-6B Prowler, or “queer,” is the only remaining
Mig-21 first real air-to-air Mig
(1) Costs were high: 421 aircraft lost 1965-1968, 130 lost 1969-1971 (2) Results were uncertain at best -- only slowed supply flow from North to South Vietnam; never forced North Vietnam to sue for peace (3) POW suffering and strategic liability of the prisoners being held by North Vietnam
Mone Sweeping ops.
Had to completely improvise Invent new boats, new doctrine Borrow boats from Coast guard Military-Industrial complex responded to What does this say about the relevance of Mahanian doctrine Speak about state of Mahan
S. Viet. Forces checks natives boats.
Mobile Riverine Force Base
Called up some contractors, said build us some boats We took them up the Sacramento river and wargamed them Doctrine: Drop troops ashore, then fall back and bound Commander in overhead vehicle controls operations Viet Cong beat the crap out of us OV-10A Black Ponies
Mark 1 PBR-66 of River Squadron 543
Huey landing on an ATC
A Monitor leading ATC down a Canal
A sinking ASPB (Assault Support Patrol Boat) is beach by her crew
A SEAL team Assault Boat (STAB) on the Mekong Delta
Marines unloading from at ATC for a River Assault
Viet Cong supply boat blasted….
For many, the Riverine Force justified its end in the Tet Offensive War on the ground. Marines in Jungle.
Source: Summers, Hist. Atlas of the Vietnam War , p. 132 Enemy repulsed in the South because of the Riverine Boat Operators
Photo from James A. Warren, Portrait of a Tragedy: America and the Vietnam War (Los Gatos Public Library), p. 100.
Source: Symonds, Hist. Atlas USN , p. 215
Temple from Pagodas, Gods and Spirits of Vietnam (Los Gatos Public Library), p. 43. US Marine Corps photo of Hue, Feb. 1968, from James A. Warren, Portrait of a Tragedy: America and the Vietnam War , p. 108.
Ironically, the Tet Offensive was a strategic failure for the NVA, but it had a negative effect in US public opinion A lot of Americans died U.S. Reporter: Saigon was a “butcher shop in Eden”
Bottom Line: This war was not being supported at home, and it was filtering into the ranks Sailors would show up questioning their presence They wanted to survive, not win medals Officer had matters of conscious
1972, Nixon is elected A very controversial who ended his presidency as ignominiously as any president could have- the first of two presidents to have ever faced impeachment He was big on foreign policy. He was the president who went to China, had a brilliant Secretary of State in Henry Kissinger who was also a big question mark. He started out supporting the effort in Vietnam, then instituted a process to get us out.
The Linebacker missions: you don’t need to know these, but when B-52s are getting shot down, it’s a bad thing Maj. Mark Clodfelter, USAF (an S&P author): “ Nixon the Mad Bomber”
Adm Zumwalt Sept 1970 became the youngest CNO to ever hold the job Hagan describes him as the most visionary man to ever hold the position. We’ll talk more about him next class. Without realizing it, he wanted to cross the bridge from Mahan to the present day- do the reading! He thought the US Navy should hand the war back to the Vietnamese. Helped him get his job as CNO.
Sources: Chicago, Harry Summers, Hist. Atlas Vietnam War , p. 159; Girl, James A. Warren, Portrait of a Tragedy: America and the Vietnam War (Los Gatos Public Library), p. 126. It became evident that we were not going to win this war the way we were fighting it, and the public was not supporting it. So the Nixon administration decided to pull us out.
Source: Summers, Hist. Atlas Vietnam War , pp. 91, 84
Here’s where Zumwalt said, look, we need to build some “low” ships for projection. That was anti-Mahanian, anti-Rickover, and it didn’t happen
1. ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., became the youngest CNO in history in July 1970 (49 years old). Was promoted to position over several officers more senior, which created a great deal of ill-will in the upper echelons of the U.S. Navy. 2. The &quot;high-low&quot; mix a. Zumwalt considered Navy had two missions: (1) sea control (2) power projection b. Believed fleet should be structured to support those missions (1) High end: Carriers and other expensive combatants (2) Low end: Inexpensive platforms for missile defense, escort duty, aircraft support (3) The &quot;Sea Control Ship&quot; (a small-budget, low-priced carrier) and the FFG-7 were representative of the low end. The Sea Control Ship was never built and the FFG-7 became the only legacy of the concept. 3. Other issues of the Zumwalt period a. Equal opportunities for minorities b. Admiral Hyman G. Rickover’s inordinate power in the navy and the government generally: a problem he could not solve c. Differences with the Nixon administration (1) Kissinger and the U.S.S. Constellation &quot;mutiny&quot; (2) Zumwalt's criticism of the terms of SALT II
1. Categories of differences a. Number of major ships b. Number of ships by type c. Tonnage by type fleets d. Operational ship days out of area 2. Reasons for differences: Differing naval policies and priorities a. Geography (1) U.S. -- a maritime power (2) Soviets -- a continental power b. Internal defense priorities (1) U.S. Navy versus U.S. Army/Air Force (2) Soviet navy versus army/air force/rocket forces c. Perceived threats (1) U.S. has peaceful and stable borders (2) The Soviets have historically had unfriendly or unstable borders and have been repeatedly invaded. d. Naval background (1) The U.S. was an &quot;old navy&quot; which emerged from World War II with overwhelming naval mastery built primarily on carriers. (2) Soviets were a &quot;new navy&quot;, avoiding expensive and dated strategies and weapons systems (just as the U.S. did in the late 1800s). e. Economic approach to shipbuilding (1) U.S. ships: Few in number with high technology and minimal personnel (2) Soviet ships: Numerous but austere, with improving technology f. Navies configured for different wars (1) U.S. configured for long war in remote locations (2) Soviets configured for short war near their own borders/coasts
1. The cost to the American people was dramatic; 58,000 Americans died; witnessed on TV in everyone's living room every night, the first media war. 2. Vietnam's civil war became America's civil convulsion. The assassination of President Kennedy (November 1963) immediately followed the assassination of President Diem. The Tet Offensive in 1968 was followed by the march on Washington in 1969. President Nixon’s secret incursion into Cambodia was followed by the student shootings at Kent State in 1970. Watergate evolved to some degree out of President Nixon's fear of his harshest critics, who were also the most vocal opponents of the Vietnam conflict. 3.
“ Rolling Thunder must go down in the history of aerial warfare as the most ambitious, wasteful, and ineffective campaign ever mounted. While damage was . . . done to many targets in the North, no lasting objective was achieved. Hanoi emerged as the winner of Rolling Thunder.” (CIA analyst quoted by COL Harry Summers, USA, Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War , p. 96)
Coastal interdiction of supplies moved from N. Vietnam to South Vietnam by small boats, etc.
84 PCF armed with .50 cal machine guns and 81-mm mortar.
Destroyers, destroyer escorts, minesweepers
Coast Guard Cutters
Not unlike North’s blockade during Civil War!
Evaluation as outstandingly effective: “ From January to July 1967, Market Time forces . . . inspected or boarded more than 700,000 vessels in South Vietnamese waters. Except for five enemy ships [sighted during Tet] . . . no other enemy trawlers were spotted from July 1967 to August 1969.” (COL Harry Summers, USA, Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War , p. 150)
.50 caliber machine guns of PCF Cautious evaluation: “There are no statistics to show what MARKET TIME did not interdict. At the very least, MARKET TIME forced the enemy to be even more inventive and creative in bringing into the South the tools of war.” (Symonds, Historical Atlas , p. 210)
S. Viet “Junk Boat Force” operating during Market Time Certain evaluation: Forced North Vietnam to expand and rely more heavily on the overland Ho Chi Minh Trail running south through Laos and Cambodia.
Mobile Riverine Force of the “Brown Water Navy” Operation “Game Warden” (December 1965- September 1968
Conceived by N. Vietnam’s General Vo Nguyen Giap, architect of Dien Bien Phu (1954 defeat of France)
Combine attack by N Vietnamese and Vietcong
Goal: popular uprising (failed)
Achieve Dien Bien Phu- like tactical battlefield victory for propaganda purposes
Struck at 36 of 44 provincial capital and military bases (most notably, Hue and Khe Sanh)
100 other villages
“ What the Hell’s Ho Chi Minh Doing Answering Our Saigon Embassy Phone. . . ?” Paul Conrad, Los Angles Times , 1968 General Vo Nguyen Giap Former history teacher
TET in and near Saigon 0245 Jan. 31 - 7 Mar. 1968 NVA and VC attack city-wide, especially against US Embassy and MACV HQ (Gen. Westmoreland), near Tan Son Nhut airbase. Also at Bin Hoa airbase (NE of Saigon), busiest in world. (875,000 landings & takeoffs per year) Enemy repulsed by strategic/ tactical foresight of LGEN Fred C. Weyand, veteran of China-Burma- India campaign, WW II
A Vietcong (VC) corpse lies on the US Embassy grounds in Saigon shortly after the Tet attack. ( U.S. Army photo) “ We fought from house to house and street to street. When we had to go inside a house we’d just shoot inside with our rifles and then the M-60. Then we had to go up into the house and make sure they were dead. We didn’t have no flame-throwers. I didn’t see no tanks in Saigon. They didn’t have things like you see in the movies on TV about World War II. It surprised me.” -------U.S. soldier
Tet at Hue 0330, 31 Jan. - 2 Mar. 1968 “ The twenty-five day struggle for Hue was the longest and bloodiest ground action of the Tet offensive, and, quite possibly, the longest and bloodiest single action of the Second Indochina War.” --- Don Oberdorfer author of Tet! , first-hand witness
Temple for victims of the resistance against French colonial rule, Hue . Marines patrol streets Hue, Feb. 1968 ( USMC photo )
President Johnson renounces candidacy for re-election (31 Mar 68)
Secretary of Defense, McNamara, forced to resign
General Westmoreland replaced by General Abrams as U.S. overall commander in Vietnam.
VADM Zumwalt appointed Commander, U.S. naval Forces , Vietnam ( Sept 68)
MERGES Game Warden and Mobile Riverine Force into SEALORDS
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 1972 NIXON vs. SEN. GEORGE McGOVERN --- 60 % of popular vote --- 49 states
“ The bastards have never been bombed like they’re going to be bombed this time.” ---President Richard M. Nixon March 1972 Linebacker I (ended 22 Oct.): 40,000 sorties; 125,000 tons of bombs Linebacker II (18-26 Dec. 1972) 742 B-52, 640 fighter-bomber sorties 15 B-52s lost!!!
VADM Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. Commander, U.S. Forces, Vietnam
ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT Chicago, Demo. Convention Aug. 1968 Kent State University 4 May 1970
Turning over the war to S. Vietnamese with withdrawing American forces as quickly as possible
U.S. forces reduced from over 500,000 combat/combat support to a handful of advisors.
Admiral Zumwalt, Jr. - withdrawal of naval forces
Hanoi signed Paris Accords (Jan 1973) calling for cease-fire throughout S. Vietnam and release of POWs
Nixon opens to China and conducts arms limitation summit with Moscow
Peace negotiations in Paris - Henry Kissinger.
U.S. withdraws forces from South Vietnam
North Vietnam agrees to allow South Vietnam to decide government in a free election and to release American POWs
“ Vastly different from last two years of Korea: U.S. was now withdrawing before indigenous forces were built-up and able to stand on their own.” -- COL Harry Summers Marine regimental commander to Marine LCOL Bernard Trainor, 1969: “We’re no longer here to win, we’re merely ‘campaigning,’ so keep the casualties down.” -- from Marine retired MGEN Bernard Trainor, author of General’s War on Gulf
“ Vietnamization offered a way to get the United States, the Republicans, Richard Nixon, and most important, [Secretary of Defense] Melvin Laird, out of the Vietnam quagmire. Whether it would work or not was secondary. It was an exit.” -- LGEN Philip Davidson Vietnamization was “the model or paradigm of a new strategy of retreat.” -- Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary
1972: “The fighting wasn’t over, but the war was won . . . There came a later point at which the war was no longer won.” -- Lewis Sorley, author of Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times (
Congress rejected any further military intervention in Southeast Asia and refused to appropriate the full $1 billion in military aid promised South Vietnam by the Nixon administration
30 April 1975: North Vietnamese forces overran South Vietnam; South Vietnam’s president proclaimed unconditional surrender;
U.S. Embassy in Saigon evacuated, the final few Americans leaving by helicopter from the Embassy’s roof. In operations Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind, 7 th Fleet evacuates remaining Americans and foreign nationals