What do you believe makes our current Iraq war unpopular and why?
Johnson’s Turn to solve Vietnam…
Johnson and Vietnam
Lyndon Johnson wanted to show he was a tough on communism
Two American ships were “attacked” in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam.
The Senate and House passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution , giving Johnson full power to use troops as needed in Vietnam.
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution would be the explanation for our continued presence in Vietnam .
LBJ confers with Dean Rusk, Sec. of State… Robert S. McNamara
Resolution -Aug. 5 “the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the US and to prevent further aggression.” Taking the first step...
General William Westmoreland The Man in Charge...
Vietnam US troop levels: 1963 : 16,000, 1968 : 500,000
Headgear Soldiers received a standard issue "pot" or steel helmet, which, in addition to providing some protection against shrapnel or bullets , often saw duty as a chair, cookpot, or even "butt armor. " Helmets also protected valuables such as cigarettes, matches and personal letters from frequent downpours. Many men emblazoned their helmets with slogans such as "Don't Shoot, I'm Short" or "God is My Pointman."
The pots were heavy and, in high jungle temperature, extremely hot; some soldiers abandoned them in favor of floppy, fabric hats in the field.
M-16 Rifle …Standard issue for infantrymen, fired . 223 caliber/5.56mm bullets at a rate of 750-900 rounds per minute on automatic setting, or as fast as a soldier could pull the trigger on semiautomatic . The rifle had an effective range of about 435 yards . Before a late 1966 redesign, the fussy M16s responded poorly to wet, dirty field conditions, and often jammed during combat, resulting in numerous casualties. M16 cartridges came in 20 or 30-round "clips ," which could be quickly popped in and out of the rifle's loading port during firefights . New Gun...
M60 Machine Gun Light enough to be carried on patrol and deadly in a firefight, the M60 fired up to 550 high-velocity bullets from a gas-powered belt fed system at a range of over 1,900 yards . The M60 could be fired from a bipod or tripod or from the hip. Perhaps its greatest limitation was the weight of its cartridge belts, which limited the amount of ammunition that could be carried into the field.
Soldiers fire a 105mm howitzer in support of infantry. This was the main artillery piece used by the US Army Infantry Support
There was no use for tanks in Vietnam. The new “Calvary,” the helicopter
Bell UH-1 Helicopter The Bell UH-1helicopter, popularly known as the "Huey," was the workhorse aircraft for US forces. Well adapted for jungle warfare, the Huey could fly at low altitudes and speeds, land in small clearings, maneuver to dodge enemy fire, and carry an array of powerful armaments. Among other duties, the versatile chopper transported troops, equipment, supplies, and support personnel into the field; provided additional firepower to troops engaged on the ground; and evacuated the dead and wounded.
A Huey hovers to off-load members of the 101 st Airborne (WWII’s famous “Screaming Eagles ”) in a search-and-destroy mission near the DMZ
Drop zone. A Huey lifts off after dropping Marines in the jungle
Fighting in the Jungle
Jungle was difficult to fight in; enemy could hide everywhere.
US had learned how to fight in jungles during island hopping in WWII
The Vietcong were relatively “low tech” and did not have best weapons
This war should be easy, right?
A North Vietnamese soldier and a Vietcong guerrilla dig in at a bunker position
North Vietnam’s Strategy
Ambushes, booby traps, and guerilla tactics
Blend in with native population
Led to the mistrust of almost all Vietnamese
System of underground tunnels
A NVA soldier reveals the entrance to a tunnel used as a hiding place by VC guerrillas
One of the tunnels in Cu Chi
Booby Traps- pungi sticks
Tin-can Grenades Spiked Ball
The VC used a variety of everyday objects-in this case, a book-to make booby traps
Hidden Mines-A favorite spot for a mine was around a fallen tree or log lying across a path… SSgt. James Craig of the 2 nd Squadron, 11 th Cavalry, gingerly inspects a 22-lb Chinese mine during clearing operations near Quan Loi on Dec. 26, 1969
A Determined Enemy
US underestimated Vietcong’s will to fight.
They were willing to accept huge losses of troops.
For every 1 American who was killed, 10 Vietcong enemy soldiers were killed.
North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars on parade in Hanoi during the 1960’s
The North also received weapons and supplies from China and the Soviet Union.
Although Vietcong were stationed in the North, they regularly sent troops South to attack.
The primary asset for the NVA in the war is a B-40 anti-tank rocket, widely used by the VC
Mekong Delta villagers are seen in the “black pajamas” of the VC guerrilla with Soviet-designed weapons
The NVA would use a the wide range of weapons
Problems for the US
The US was afraid to use too much force
Feared of a Chinese or Russian intervention (remember Korea?)
The goal of US army was not to conquer North Vietnam, but just keep the South safe. This is a difficult strategy.
How would we win the war?
US could protect and control a town during the day, lose it at night.
US could not seem to win over the Vietnamese people
We hoped to wear down the enemy’s spirits, but it ended up being the US that got exhausted.
America’s Air Superiority
To counter the Vietcong’s tactics American soldiers went on search and destroy missions
Goal was to find enemy troops, bomb their positions, destroy their supply lines, and force them into the open
But how to force them out the jungle, new weapons such as napalm and “Agent Orange” would make that possible
Bombers dropping agent Orange
Before/After: B-mangrove forest sprayed with Agent Orange in 1965. A-1970: the black patches show surviving trees Agent Orange , a chemical that strips leaves from trees, turning jungle into wasteland.
An A-1 Skyraider drops napalm
napalm , a jellied gasoline that explodes on contact.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
U.S had trouble restricting the flow of supplies from the north
The border for Vietnam is small. How were they sneaking down into the South?
Arms and supplies were sent south via the Ho Chi Minh Trail
The trail would bypass the border between North and South; instead went through Laos and Cambodia (other countries).
Operation Rolling Thunder was a demonstration of America’s near total air supremacy during the Vietnam War.
It was started in an effort to demoralize the North Vietnamese people and to undermine the capacity of the government in North Vietnam to govern.
Operation Rolling Thunder failed on both accounts.
Operation Rolling Thunder
No End in Sight
Bombing from American planes killed as many as 22,000 Vietnamese between 1965 and 1967
By the end of 1966, 6,700 US troops had been killed.
The more Americans die, the quicker we want the war to be over.
Many citizens back home began to wonder about why we were even there .