The War in Vietnam The Second Indochina War 19?? -1975
Viet Minh starts as independence movement in 1941, adopts communism in 1950’s.
Viet Minh fight guerilla war for independence from 1946-1954.
Viet Minh win decisively at Dien Bien Phu.
Terms of peace treaty split country at 17 th parallel.
Country-wide elections to be held in 1956 to decide on single government for entire country.
North looks like probable victor; South refuses to participate.
NV invades South.
Backed by USSR and China
Govt led by Ho Chi Minh (“Uncle Ho”)
Spy for US OSS during WWII, became increasingly totalitarian.
Experienced, motivated army (NVA) led by Giap.
Backed by US
Govt led by Diem
Corrupt and filled with family-members
Favoritism for Catholics angered Buddhist majority.
Overthrown by group of generals in Nov ‘63.
Unreliable, conscript army (ARVN)
Viet Cong guerillas.
Prelude to War
US involvement based on “domino theory”
Afraid that if one country falls to communism, adjoining countries would quickly follow.
"If we withdrew from Vietnam, the Communists would control Vietnam. Pretty soon, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaya, would go...“ President Kennedy
1961: Jan -- 900 advisors
Dec -- White Paper recommends big build up; some argue to stay out altogether; Kennedy chooses middle ground of adding more advisors.
1963: Nov – 16,000 advisors
NVA regulars invade RVN
1964: Summer – 27,000 advisors
US begins covert raids against targets in NV and coastal surveillance missions.
Gulf of Tonkin
August 2 nd and 4 th 1964, two US destroyers allegedly fired on by NV gunboats.
Gulf of Tonkin
LBJ sends Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to Congress August 5.
Approved nearly unanimously by Congress on 7 Aug.
Gave LBJ broad authority to “ to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the US and to prevent further aggression.”
Carrier-based air raids into NV conducted in response to attacks.
Resolution repealed in 1970.
Feb 1965: US begins ROLLING THUNDER, an extensive bombing campaign against NV
Operation Rolling Thunder
Send in the Marines…
Viet Cong attack two US air bases in SV.
6 March: 9th Marines land at Da Nang to provide security for air bases.
August: 7 th -1 st USMC offensive op of war, Operation STARLITE .
Only conventional VC-USMC battle.
Dec: 180k US troops in country.
Westmoreland wants end the war quickly by reaching the “crossover point” through “ search and destroy ” tactics.
Ia Drang Valley
We Were Soldiers Once And Young
1 st Cavalry Division
New “airmobile” tactics
First meeting between US and NVA in SV.
Initial battle is tactical and operational victory for US, but…
Ambush following battle inflicts nearly 70% casualties on a battalion moving to an LZ.
Halts NV invasion plans.
NVA realize they can’t go toe to toe with US, revert to hit and run tactics.
Johnson places extensive restrictions on targets due to concerns over public opinion and Soviet and Chinese response.
Massive tonnage of bombs dropped, often on questionable targets.
US drops greater tonnage of aviation ordnance around Khe Sahn in three months than it had dropped on Japan during all of WWII.
7 million tons of bombs and defoliants were dropped in total and 2.6 million Vietnamese were killed.
Planned for eight weeks, lasted three years.
500 US aircraft shot down
NV use captured US aviators as propaganda weapons.
War of attrition
Inflict as many casualties as possible- we will out last them
N.V. strategy=inflict high U.S. body count-weaken support
cards that were air dropped over the Ho Chi Minh Trail or otherwise left with VC bodies
General William Westmoreland
Guerrilla warfare, blended into the population by day, by night ambushing, sabotaging U.S. G.I.s.
Hid in extensive tunnels
Way bombing didn’t work
How to clear a tunnel
A soldier from the 8th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division prepares to enter a tunnel while an armed soldier keeps guard Engineers unpack and test a Mitey-Mite blower in the jungles of Vietnam. Most effectively
Khe Sahn Dec 67-July 68
Patrol base and outpost for ops along western DMZ and interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Greater political/psychological importance than military.
Concerns about “another Dinbinfoo”.
6k Marines from 26 th Marines hold off 20k NVA and endure over 40k rounds of incoming arty, mortar, and rocket fire during 77 day (Jan-March) siege.
Army division finally breaks through and ends siege.
Marines argue to abandon, but Westmoreland refuses.
Joint Army-Marine force continues to occupy until camp is abandoned the day after Westmoreland changes command.
NV and war opponents exploit propaganda value of flip-flop, raising further questions back home about the conduct of the war.
The Tet Offensive
US attention focused on Khe Sahn.
30 Jan 1968, estimated 85k NVA and VC launch attacks throughout SV.
Sought max psychological impact by attacking political centers, including Saigon, Hue, and US Embassy.
Sought to incite a general uprising among RVN populace.
Achieve strategic and tactical surprise by attacking during Lunar New Year
US/SV win tactical victories, but North (with help of media) achieves strategic victory.
Viet Cong losses so great that it is not a factor for remainder of war, but…
Johnson has been assuring US public that victory is in sight.
THE EXECUTION OF A BOUND VIET CONG BY A SAIGON POLICE CHIEF. AFTER SHOOTING THE PRISONER
The American deployment jumped from 23,300 in 1963 to 184,000 in 1966 and reached a peak of 542,000 in January 1969 under Richard Nixon's presidency.
The Tet offensive is seen as the great turning point: from then on the war, costing $30 billion a year, was widely acknowledged as un-winnable by the Americans. It was only a matter of time before mighty US imperialism was humiliatingly forced to withdraw.
Tet Offensive-turning point in war
U.S. militarily wins the battles, destroys the Vietcong
However, U.S. public thinks the war is near an end, govt. says win near.
TV shows win NOT near!!
TV vs. govt. who do you believe??
Westmoreland ask for 200k more troops-told NO!!
LBJ will not seek re-election
Only 3 network TV stations
T.V. coverage uncensored (today?)
U.S. public saw dirty war
This eroded support for the war
Reporters highly educated, skeptical, resistant to appeals of loyalty to govt.
U.S. public started to see war as un-winnable & meaningless
Who to believe???
Government or the press??
Death Cards Vietnam It depicts a rifleman taking aim at a Viet Cong Guerrilla. The text in Vietnamese is "I saw you but let you live…next time you die." The back of the card depicts a crude skull and crossed bones. U.S. troops got a kick out of them and loved the idea of leaving them on bodies. Like wolves, it was a way to mark their territory. It proclaimed them the biggest and "baddest" varmints in the valley of death. The cards motivated and encouraged American troops far more than they terrified the enemy.
Hue Feb 1968
5th Marines + RVN troops vs four NVA regiments.
Had to cross Perfume River, then deal with 16’ citadel walls to retake city.
Weather and rules of engagement caused friction, limiting effectiveness of fire support.
Marines used to fighting in jungle and rice paddies had to adapt.
House to house fighting left over 100k homeless.
Bloodiest single battle of the war.
>5k NVA/VC KIA; 1k USMC, 600 USA casualties.
Defoliant-kills all vegetation-eliminates the jungle-easier to fight
During the war in Vietnam more than 18 million gallons of dioxin-laden Agent Orange and other herbicides were sprayed over 10% of S.Vietnam between 1961 and 1971, poisoning and defoliating millions of hectares of forest and croplands.
60% support war
100 people-antiwar demonstrators in Boston
380 draft evaders prosecuted
-60% oppose the war
-100,000 anti-war demonstrators in Boston
-33,960 draft evaders prosecuted
Started with Free Speech Movement in 1964 at U. of California at Berkley
Students revolted vs. campus admin.
Use Civil Rights techniques-peace marches, sit-ins, teach-ins
protestors trying to convey, that they wanted peace
The antiwar movement kept Johnson's Vietnam War policies in the headlines and on the minds of the public. Americans were no longer willing to support a war they did not fully understand.
CIA domestic surveillance campaign to spy on antiwar leaders and prove that they were communists
J. Edgar Hoover CIA and FBI agents were sent to college campuses to report antiwar activities and also to stir the students toward militant violence. This was done in an attempt to give protestors a bad rap but failed miserably because "no community in the United States was unaffected by the Vietnam War.
As rallies grew in number a few chants became the common cry of the protestors:
"Hell no; we won't go!"
"Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"
On October 15 they called for the total cessation of all activity to ponder what was going on in Vietnam. 100,000 people gathered in the Boston Commons and 250,000 gathered in Washington. Tens of thousands of soldiers in Vietnam wore black armbands that day. On November 15 they organized a march on Washington in which 500,000 protestors participated. It was the largest demonstration in U.S. history
Burn draft cards
27 mil 1964-73
25 mil deferred-medical/mental/college/powerful friends
1966- 7% hs soph. Concerned about draft
All males were required to register for the draft within two weeks of attaining their 18 birthday
Many diverse loopholes within their classifications to permit those meeting specific criteria to lawfully avoid military service.
The abused one was Class II-A, Occupational Deferment. If your employer deemed that your skills were critical to their business, a deferment could have been part of their employment package. Although this classification favored large, politically influential, aerospace and military type contractors, it also applied to firemen, policemen, math and science teachers
Peace talks begin in Paris.
My Lai: 300 RVN civilians killed by USA platoon. Not “discovered” until a year later.
June: announced 25k troop reduction (reduction from 540k) is balanced by promises to increase aid to RVN and bombing of NV by US.
“ Vietnamization” policy seeks to turn fighting over to South Vietnamese.
US commanders instructed to minimize casualties.
US and RVN forces invade Cambodia in Spring 1970 to attack NVA staging areas.
US planes bomb Cambodia and Laos to cut off Ho Chi Minh trail.
Anti-war protests increase.
4 students killed at Kent State.
US troops reduced to 350k.
Kent State University
On Friday, May 1, a day after Nixon’s televised address, students at Kent State University organized a demonstration to protest the invasion of Cambodia, which included burying the United States Constitution in front of the Victory Bell on the university Commons. The following Monday, May 4, an estimated crowd of 2,000-3,000 gathered on the Commons to continue their protest. Shortly after noon, members of the Ohio National Guard, which had been dispatched that weekend to control acts of civil disobedience, encountered the crowd
Kent State University
Ohio National Guard personnel at Kent State
Students running for cover in a Kent State parking lot
An injured or slain student being moved on a stretcher
Mary Ann Vecchio screaming as she kneels over the body of student Jeffrey Miller at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. National Guardsmen had fired in to a crowd of demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine.
Allison Krause, William K. Schroeder, Jeffrey G. Miller, Sandra L. Scheuer, the four slain Kent State students
On March 16, 1968 the angry and frustrated men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, America Division entered the Vietnamese village of My Lai. "This is what you've been waiting for -- search and destroy -- and you've got it," said their superior officers. A short time later the killing began.
Mai Lai Massacre
Massacre As the "search and destroy" mission unfolded, it soon degenerated into the massacre of over 300 apparently unarmed civilians including women, children, and the elderly. Calley ordered his men to enter the village firing, though there had been no report of opposing fire. According to eyewitness reports offered after the event, several old men were bayoneted, praying women and children were shot in the back of the head, and at least one girl was raped and then killed. For his part, Calley was said to have rounded up a group of the villagers, ordered them into a ditch, and mowed them down in a fury of machine gun fire.
Mai Lai Massacre
The plan was to encourage the South Vietnamese to take more responsibility for fighting the war. It was hoped that this policy would eventually enable the United States to withdraw gradually all their soldiers from Vietnam.
To increase the size of the ARVN, a mobilization law was passed that called up into the army all men in South Vietnam aged between 17 & 43.
In June, 1969, Nixon announced the first of the US troop withdrawals. The 540,000 US troops were to be reduced by 25,000. Another 60,000 were to leave the following December
-give the impression that President Nixon was mentally unstable and that his hatred of communism was so fanatical that if the war continued for much longer he was liable to resort to nuclear weapons against North Vietnam
- Vietnamese were trained by the CIA to infiltrate peasant communities and discover the names of NLF sympathizers. When they had been identified, Death Squads were sent in to execute them. Between 1968 and 1971, an estimated 40,974 members of of the NLF were killed in this way.
Peace treaty signed on 27 Jan 1973.
US would withdraw all forces.
NV would repatriate all POWs.
Fighting resumes in 1974.
U.S. drastically cuts aid in August.
April-May 1975 Operation FREQUENT WIND evacuates remaining US and many Vietnamese from Saigon as it falls to NVA.
Last helo lifts remaining Marines from the embassy roof on 30 April.
The fighting in Vietnam was not as intense as in World War II. Wrong….
The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw 40 days of combat in 4 years.
The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in 1 year due to the mobility of the helicopter.
One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty.
58,169 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 million who served. The percent who died is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300 percent higher than in World War II. 75,000 Vietnam veterans are severely disabled.