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1000ydstare
08-05-2006, 11:57 AM
This has always puzzled me. A first world super power, that was capable of holding off the USSR, was pushed out by a 4th world army relying on bicycles and water buffalo for logistics and straw hats and black PJs.

Could anyone shed any light as to the political powers or otherwise that brought the war to a close?

What part did McNamara play?

Was the war really lost before it began?

pdf27
08-05-2006, 05:27 PM
IMHO the US lost because they were trying to destroy, not create. There was never a South Vietnamese government that commanded the loyalty of it's people or armed forces in any meaningful way, still less any that deserved to. Thus the US were always fighting for a negative aim, not a positive one. Coupled with some less than bright tactics this IMHO means they never had a chance to win the political war. The military war just followed the political one.

PLT.SGT.BAKER
08-07-2006, 12:10 PM
And the NVA had a tough morale, it was hard to try to lower their morale.

Man of Stoat
08-07-2006, 02:24 PM
Let us also not forget the ceasefire arrangement which was brokered. It required the US to leave, and as soon as they left the North moved against the South. The US were not defeated militarily, but politically. People often try to make out that the US was somehow defeated on the battlefield and driven out, but this is simply not true.

Gen. Sandworm
08-08-2006, 06:02 AM
Let us also not forget the ceasefire arrangement which was brokered. It required the US to leave, and as soon as they left the North moved against the South. The US were not defeated militarily, but politically. People often try to make out that the US was somehow defeated on the battlefield and driven out, but this is simply not true.

Very good point. There are many things that lead to the political defeat of the US in Vietnam. US media for one. Tet was seen as a Vietnamese victory by many but was a complete failure for the north except in the american media. The kill ratio in the conflict was completly loppsided towards the US/S. Vietnam. However the never ending persistence of the north and their supporters helped achieve mounting pressure on the american goverment ........ at home and on the battlefield. For many years the US govt was convinced they were winning the war by what the numbers showed however along with the civil rights movement, growing distrust of the govt and constant streams of dead soldiers on the TV was alot to bear. Let us not forget the almost 50000 people that "almost" stormed the pentagon and the killings at Kent State Uni. for example. The north also played into these problems at home. Attempting to make a distrust between whites and blacks in the army. Also boundry conditions played a huge part in this conflict. It was in no way like the Korean war.

Going to stop here and just make my point.

My main belief here is that the North did their homework and studied the US and what would make them crack, while maintaining the best military tactics they could apply to the stonger american forces. Therefore forcing the US to abandon the war in Vietnam. On the otherhand the US failed to completly understand the history of the region and the effort that the north would put into the war. The also didnt expect the blowback that would be recieved in their own land.

Funny how media coverage is a bit different today. :roll:

WaistGunner
08-08-2006, 02:54 PM
The North Vietnamese were well aware of the fact they could not defeat American might in a heads up confrontation. They were also well aware of the fact that they didn't have to. If you think about it it is very similar to the American Revolutionary War. In both cases the "rebel" force is under manned and under strength compared to their powerful opponents. In both cases the rebel forces were well aware of the anti-war factions. In both casesthe commanders knew they didn't have to defeat the enemy forces they just had survive long enough for the anti opinions to over rule the agressive opinions.

You could say that N. Vietnam didn't defeat America in the physical sense, they simply outlasted American political resolve. Tet of course due to the politcal spin in part helped inbreaking the resolve. You could say that Tet is to America what Yorktown was to Britian.

PLT.SGT.BAKER
08-09-2006, 09:35 PM
Who knows what could've happened if america still went on in the vietnam war.

(off topic) I do seem to recall that my mom said when she was little she saw troops in china that were going to war. I tried to get more info out of my mom about this but she says all she can remember.

FW-190 Pilot
08-11-2006, 02:36 AM
good tactics by Vietnam. American soldier rely on helicopters to transport their soldiers. At first they are scared because Vietnam soldier never saw a helicopter before, but as soon as they know what it is. Vietnam soldier always pretended to lost a battle and retreat, but they always come back and trace the american airfield(helicopter) and then suround the area. Not to mention over 90% of the time, the vietnam soldier start the battle, not American.

Hiddenrug
08-20-2006, 12:24 AM
I do believe that the Vietcong disliked attacking Australian soldiers becuase they were so fomidable. Any thoughts?

Doug 1956
08-20-2006, 09:07 AM
Why did America lose? You first had to look at what the aims of their were and what the aims of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were.

America was attempting, according to most sources, to stop the spread of communism. There were no military aims as such, no plans to do anything but defend, and to try to prop up an unpopular and corrupt regime. It should also be remembered that the USA, with the South Vietnamese 'government' refused to allow democratic elections to take place in the whole of the country after the French pulled out.

Von Clauswitz, famously, wrote that war is politics by other means. Lincoln, in a policitical sense, talked about government being government being for, by and from the people. A civil war such as the Vietnamese American war required a political settlement, of the poeple.

The USA could not win the politics, so it could not win the war.

Nickdfresh
08-20-2006, 10:05 AM
Very good point. There are many things that lead to the political defeat of the US in Vietnam. US media for one. Tet was seen as a Vietnamese victory by many but was a complete failure for the north except in the american media. The kill ratio in the conflict was completly loppsided towards the US/S. Vietnam.

I have a problem with this. You're leaving out the "Westmorland's (infamous) Saigon Press Conferences" factor. Gen. Westmorland, and the military at large, made repeated and increasingly bellicose statements regarding the "pacification" of South Vietnam, and how the War was going well when in fact the U.S. military was effectively doing what Sen. John McCain refers to as a "Whack-a-Mole." That is, securing areas for a short time that were soon bandit country again the minute we left, and often exaggerating the enemy losses through the "body-count" mentality. This all meant that the U.S. gov't was effectively lying to it's population both unintentionally, and by design, as the Pentagon Papers clearly showed, about the overall course of the war and how much sacrifice it would take to "win" it.

The Tet Offensive was, in a sense, the end of a widely effective Viet Cong (National Liberation Front), but the beginning of the North Vietnamese Army's increasing conventional forays into the South. In short, the whole thing blew up into a giant egg on Westmorland's, the Pentagons, and LBJ's faces.

And the Vietnamese could sustain whatever we inflicted. I think the Irish have a proverb that goes something like, "it is not he that can inflict the most, but he that can withstand the most, that will win the day."




However the never ending persistence of the north and their supporters helped achieve mounting pressure on the american goverment ........ at home and on the battlefield. For many years the US govt was convinced they were winning the war by what the numbers showed however along with the civil rights movement, growing distrust of the govt and constant streams of dead soldiers on the TV was alot to bear. Let us not forget the almost 50000 people that "almost" stormed the pentagon and the killings at Kent State Uni. for example. The north also played into these problems at home. Attempting to make a distrust between whites and blacks in the army. Also boundry conditions played a huge part in this conflict. It was in no way like the Korean war.

Going to stop here and just make my point.

My main belief here is that the North did their homework and studied the US and what would make them crack, while maintaining the best military tactics they could apply to the stonger american forces. Therefore forcing the US to abandon the war in Vietnam. On the otherhand the US failed to completly understand the history of the region and the effort that the north would put into the war. The also didnt expect the blowback that would be recieved in their own land.

Funny how media coverage is a bit different today. :roll:


Some good points here. But it's not the media's job to serve as pro-Gov't propaganda, and there was plenty of media manipulation but those that in fact knew the War was not going well but were callously putting on a brave face as our boys were dying. What's the media supposed to report in that case? The lovely weather in Hue?

Nickdfresh
08-20-2006, 10:27 AM
Why did America lose? You first had to look at what the aims of their were and what the aims of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were.

America was attempting, according to most sources, to stop the spread of communism. There were no military aims as such, no plans to do anything but defend, and to try to prop up an unpopular and corrupt regime. It should also be remembered that the USA, with the South Vietnamese 'government' refused to allow democratic elections to take place in the whole of the country after the French pulled out.

Von Clauswitz, famously, wrote that war is politics by other means. Lincoln, in a policitical sense, talked about government being government being for, by and from the people. A civil war such as the Vietnamese American war required a political settlement, of the poeple.

The USA could not win the politics, so it could not win the war.


Very true. It's one, admirable, thing to fight against communism, but you have to fight FOR something as well, and it was certainly not democracy in this case. It was a corrupt, despotic military regime with links to French colonialists that was incapable of building a decent civil society or military force capable of standing on it's own. We simply went into somebody else's civil war.

Nixon got the US out through "peace with honor" through the policy of "Vietnamization," an effort to finally modernize the ARVN and turn them into a mini-version US military (rather than adapting cultural nuances as the NVA had). I'm not sure why the US hadn't pursued this policy all along rather than giving up by about 1964 (most ARVN troops still carried WWII surplus M-1s into the late sixties!). By that time, everything was rushed and the ARVN troops were heavily dependent on over-whelming US firepower and mobility (as the the US Army & MC). The troops were low quality because they were poorly trained, exceedingly poorly led by a corrupt bunch of ****s of an officer corp, mostly poorly armed (until after 1968 anyway), had a rigid base camp/jungle fortress (9am-5pm) mentality.

The US also labored under the delusion of "monolithic Communism," whereas everything was perceived to have been run from Moscow or maybe Peking. In fact, the War was planned very much in Hanoi. The NVA adapted Soviet technology, but had their own long tradition of anti-Colonial struggle going back to before WWII.

Nickdfresh
08-20-2006, 10:43 AM
This has always puzzled me. A first world super power, that was capable of holding off the USSR, was pushed out by a 4th world army relying on bicycles and water buffalo for logistics and straw hats and black PJs..



:lol: Yeah, along with their AK-47s, T-54/55/56MBTs, BP-40 rockets, Soviet trucks, SA-2 SAMS, MIG-19/21s, 152mm artillery which often out-ranged US guns, a long tradition and experience in jungle warfare, and experience in both guerilla and conventional combat.

The most common mistake if to think of Vietnam as only a guerilla war against the VC (or National Liberation Front). It was in fact a two front war against the NLF partisan army and the NVA regulars that were very heavily armed.

Nickdfresh
08-20-2006, 10:53 AM
I do believe that the Vietcong disliked attacking Australian soldiers becuase they were so fomidable. Any thoughts?


Yes, Australian troops were each 7' tall, had 20mm Vulcan cannons mounted on their shoulders, and could bend over to fire explosing turds of naplam to 200m.

:lol:

But yes, the volunteer Australian Army was noted as more professional than the average US conscript. And the Aussie SAS was as good as anything in the theater.

Cuts
09-09-2006, 05:04 AM
I do believe that the Vietcong disliked attacking Australian soldiers becuase they were so fomidable. Any thoughts?

Army tactics and the strategies of base loc & log made a considerable difference to the cas ratio, and that in itself is one of the most important factors influencing individual sldrs' and sub-unit cmdrs' thoughts and subsequent actions.

Digger
09-29-2006, 09:40 AM
G'day,

Most of the Aussies who served in Vietnam were conscripts or Nashos as they were often called. They were well trained in the art of jungle warfare at Canungra in Queensland and this training reflected in the skills they showed in combat.

Whether they were better than the average American soldier or not is open to question, though I must admit I have heard 'horror' stories.
The Battle of Long Tan is the most commorated Australian action of the war, with a book and movie coming out.

Like America, the war was not popular here and civil protests mounted in number and size as the conflict dragged on. However the unrest was unlike anything seen in America.

Regards to all,
Digger.

Nickdfresh
09-29-2006, 11:56 AM
G'day,

Most of the Aussies who served in Vietnam were conscripts or Nashos as they were often called. They were well trained in the art of jungle warfare at Canungra in Queensland and this training reflected in the skills they showed in combat.

Whether they were better than the average American soldier or not is open to question, though I must admit I have heard 'horror' stories.
The Battle of Long Tan is the most commorated Australian action of the war, with a book and movie coming out.

They undoubtedly were. Not that the U.S. Army in Vietnam were slouches either. But there was a gradual breakdown in discipline and effectiveness. In fact, I'd say the U.S. Army performed surprisingly well all things considered, the Vietnamese may attest to this, since they had previously dealt with an all-volunteer French Army with the Foreign Legion being filled out with ex-Waffen SS Germans. But the Australians were more professional as soldiers. One example I can cite from a book I've read is that there were some joint exchanges of personnel. And the Aussies used to lament that the Americans were using drugs, and carrying AM/FM radios, in the field, which could cause excessive noise or hinder awareness.


Like America, the war was not popular here and civil protests mounted in number and size as the conflict dragged on. However the unrest was unlike anything seen in America.

Regards to all,
Digger.

Interesting. I didn't realize Australia had conscription at the time...

Digger
09-29-2006, 07:22 PM
G'day,

Conscription was one of the emotive issues of the Vietnam war era, perhaps because it was a lottery by drawing birthdates for each month. So it was not a case of, one in, every one in.

I think the 'myth' of the American's performing poorly in Vietnam was largely constructed by the media. Sure there were problems with drugs and some units were unprofessional, but I think that happens everywhere, in every war.

For example, not all German army divisions were 'elite' units, nor were they all well equipped.

Regards to all,
Digger.

ArmyDude1973
12-07-2006, 10:07 PM
theres a number of reasons why amercans lost. 1 most of north vietnams defensive positions were underground and they could pop up anywere on the battlefield were the enemy was and quickly disapear knowen as hit and tactics.2 they had money arms and ammo sent to them from russia and china.3the major part was the americans had very little support from there countrymen with all the protest against war which made the moral of the troops depressive

GermanSoldier
03-14-2007, 09:54 PM
We lost because we did not have much support from other countrys. Now I am not saying that nobody helped us, but I wish we would of had more help from other countrys. The battlefields were very unusual to the US Military at Vietnam. I believe the viatmaneese soldiers ambushed very good. That caused us some heavy casualties in Vietnam. They also had many traps that always frightened the US Military in the Vietnam War. This is why we lost the Vietnam war. Many say we did not lose or win. We just left the country and came back home. I do not know if I agree with these people 100% maybe 25%.

32Bravo
03-25-2007, 06:13 AM
(i) Our intelligence was extremely bad

(ii) We were ill-triained and ill-equipped for jungle warfare

(iii) The local inhabitants were not being helpful

(iv) There was a wide gap between our forces

(v) Morale was threatened

Politically: slavish to the doctrine of the Domino Theory of the Cold War (which was the reason why the US became entangled in the first place), and vicitim of conflicting, internal US politics (e.g. civil rights movement; anti-war movement; arms industry).

Digger
03-25-2007, 08:43 AM
WWII was the last war America fought 'Total War'. Since then they have fought with one hand tied behind their back and the consequences have been predictable.

Regards Digger.

32Bravo
03-25-2007, 09:09 AM
Why predictable?

I can think of other small, post-war campaigns which were fought successful: Kenya, Malaya, Borneo and Oman spring to mind.

In Dereliction of Duty, H.R. McMaster has produced the finest volume on the political beginnings of the Vietnam War that has been written to date. His brilliant work benefits from the recently declassified papers and documents of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Vietnam War era.

McMaster tells a profoundly sorrowful tale of political expediency and duplicity, of arrogance and ignorance, and of bureaucratic folly and shameful opportunism at the expense of American combat soldiers. From his point of view, the entire national-security system failed. According to McMaster, President Johnson was concerned with his role in the domestic-policy arena and failed to focus his attentions on the Vietnam War and to establish an attainable and realistic objective.

Robert McNamara, McMaster says, was simply opportunistic and arrogant. He felt his first loyalty was to the president and not to the American soldiers he callously threw into the "meat grinder" that was Vietnam. Moreover, McNamara never trusted the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he ignored and patronized them shamelessly. In addition, McNamara was in love with statistical analysis and believed that wars could be run more efficiently through the quantification of "body count."


McNamara prosecution of the war was strongly influenced by the battle of La Drang Valley. It was this battle that caused him to adopt the concept of the body count.

In the first phase, the air cavalry fought a successful operation. In the follow up phase, US troops following-up on foot, were ambushed by the retreating NVA who inflicted over 90% casualties(300 plus) on the Americans.

This gave the impression that it was better to prosecute the war by using tactics developed around the use of the helicopter. It supposedly saved American lives and cost the NVA/VC theirs.
Hence the 'Body-count'.

There's only one way to fight in the jungle, and that's in the jungle.

http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/Vietnam/tactical/chapter2.htm

http://www.tempslibres.org/awhw/haibun/haib06.html

I visited 'The Wall' when visiting D.C. a couple of years ago. One of the most impressive war memorials I've ever seen, for it's simplicity and its message.

Ryan
03-27-2007, 12:06 AM
I was talking about this a day or two ago acctually. But one of the reasons we came up with was the terrain, The viatmanese used guerilla units and tons of them, and alot of booby? traps.

Chevan
03-27-2007, 01:33 AM
Anerica losed the Vietnam becouse it tryed to support the
"our bastards" - the regime which had no wide support amond mostly poor viatmanese.
The USA lose ideological war at first.
Moreover the lovely method of Pentagon - to support "democraty" by the Napalm bombing and mass violence above the peasants - is not the best choise to fight for the victory.

Cheers.

32Bravo
03-27-2007, 03:48 AM
I was talking about this a day or two ago acctually. But one of the reasons we came up with was the terrain, The viatmanese used guerilla units and tons of them, and alot of booby? traps.


War of the flea?

http://www.ausa.org/webpub/DeptAUSANews.nsf/byid/CCRN-6CGMJX

Among the pre-requisites for conventional troops to become successful in jungle counter insurgency operations, they are required to be trained to a level of competence and confidence to enable them to operate with stealth, guile and cunning. After attaining that level, it's boots on the ground; patrolling! patroling! and patrolling!....dominate the jungle!... the jungle is neutral!

Rising Sun*
03-28-2007, 07:45 PM
This has always puzzled me. A first world super power, that was capable of holding off the USSR, was pushed out by a 4th world army relying on bicycles and water buffalo for logistics and straw hats and black Pjs.”

It wasn’t pushed out in any military sense. As others have pointed out, the PAVN (People’s Army of Vietnam) and VC (Viet Cong) were badly damaged in the Tet Offensive in 1968. They never managed to recover while the US and other external forces remained in SVN (South Vietnam)

A distinction needs to be made between the PAVN which were regular troops and VC which were guerillas. The PAVN were good troops and generally were about as good as the forces they faced from any nation. The VC were good guerillas. Both were resourceful and adaptable. One simple example is that one idiotic Australian commander, against sound advice, sowed a very large minefield around a major Australian base. I think it was something like 20,000 mines. As predicted, the VC removed most of them fairly quickly and used them against the Australians and others. The VC then knew where the mines weren't and how to move through the minefield, while the Australians didn't and were thus excluded from their own and now non-existent defensive perimeter through which the enemy could move at will. The PAVN used simple but effective tactics, such as sneaking up to the edge of the treeline near a base during daylight and tying sticks to trees, or sneaking into more open country and making similar arrangements with sticks of wood and twine, as aiming alignments for RPG’s or MG’s targeted on enemy MG’s, mortars, artillery etc. in the base. Simple, but a highly effective way of getting rid of or suppressing the enemy’s main defensive weapons long before decent night vision was available. Meanwhile the Americans had their state of the art but fairly useless Starlight night vision scopes and couldn’t see much of what was happening in the dark, until the PAVN lit up the base with accurate incoming fire directed by a few sticks of wood. Both the PAVN and VC based their infantry tactics on ‘hugging the enemy’s belt’. This involved getting in very close to the enemy so that he couldn’t use his advantage of artillery and air power because he’d be destroying his own troops. It also overcame the lack of decent artillery support and the total lack of air support for the PAVN and VC. Again, a simple but brilliantly effective tactic in negating the enemy’s huge technological and equipment advantages. There are many other examples of the ways in which the PAVN and VC used intelligent and effective tactics and low tech equipment to great effect.

Japanese using the humble bicycle surprised and helped defeat the British forces in Malaya in 1941-2. The bicycle served NVN (North Vietnam) just as well. It was precisely because of the low tech approach that the PAVN and VC did so well against the Americans in particular. American troops couldn’t move far without trucks and choppers and without carrying huge amounts of gear on their backs and being re-supplied regularly, often daily (with hot meals in some cases!), in the field, thus requiring enormous logistical and transport back up. NVN porters just trotted down the Ho Chi Minh Trail with little more than a bag of rice for sustenance and an overloaded bicycle full of supplies for their troops in the field in SVN. http://www.geschichteinchronologie.ch/as/vietnam/vietnamkrieg-fotos.html
No disrespect to them, but they were like ants. A B52 raid could cut a mile long swathe through the jungle and kill some of them, but the ant column just diverted and kept moving remorselessly. The dispersion of carriers and supplies made it impossible for significant and effective strikes to be carried out in the same way that Western motor vehicle supply columns can be strafed or bombed by a single-seater plane, thus destroying large quantities of supplies for very little effort and with very little manpower. The Americans bombed the Ho Chi Minh Trail for years, and were sufficiently desperate to consider using tactical nukes, but they never stopped the supplies getting through. http://www.afa.org/magazine/nov2005/1105trail.asp http://www.nautilus.org/VietnamFOIA/background/HoChiMinhTrail.html Human ants with bicycles beat the US with spotter planes and B52’s and everything in between.

The error in thinking that the US ‘lost’ the Vietnam War is thinking that it intended to conquer or defeat NVN. That was never the objective, from Kennedy’s May 1961 National Security Action Memorandum 52 http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nsam-jfk/nsam-52.htm onwards. The real objective was to maintain the status quo in SVN and stop it falling under communist control.

This was an insane and inevitably hugely costly strategy when NVN forces could come into SVN but SVN, American etc ground forces would not cross the DMZ into NVN and, worse, advertised the fact. They could never stop NVN coming into SVN as long as they refused to go into NVN, so this merely assured a bloody, wasteful, and inconclusive conflict that would last for exactly as long as NVN was prepared to keep sending troops to SVN and supporting the VC, particularly when there was considerable popular support for NVN in SVN.

Be all that as it may, the US achieved its objective of keeping SVN from becoming communist for the whole time that the US was in Vietnam. It did not ‘lose’ at all in that sense. Once the US and other allies (including Korea which was the second largest external force in Vietnam and from memory lost something like 5,000 troops) left, SVN was incapable of defending itself. It would have gone under in 1972 but for American air and naval support and other steps by America, including subtly threatening tactical nuclear strikes on NVN. http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/vietnam/vietnamization/easteroffensive.aspx Although the final campaign in 1975 was a fine run thing in some respects, new strategies by NVN were completely successful http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/99winter/pribbeno.htm

It is somewhat of a mistake to conceive of the Vietnam war as a US war. This reflects the Western perception of it, which overlooks the fact that the primary combatants were NVN and SVN, fighting to resolve national, political and ethnic issues left in the wake of the destruction of the French colonial period by the Japanese occupation in WWII. America got itself involved for its own purposes, essentially to contain communism. These purposes happened to coincide, more or less, with the reasons why the dominant, unrepresentative (ethnically, politically, and religiously), privileged, and corrupt ruling classes in SVN wanted to resist the communists.

The preoccupation with America’s involvement ignores the realities of SVN’s experience. While America committed large forces and had large losses, SVN suffered (from memory) about ten times the military casualties America did, and committed larger forces for a longer period, before, during and after American involvement. SVN also suffered immense civilian casualties and had the country ravaged by war, while America suffered none of this. The South Vietnamese also didn’t have the luxury of withdrawing when political factors affecting America and other external forces changed and left SVN vulnerable.

As a minor but interesting point, there is evidence that America got involved in part because of goading by Australia, which felt very vulnerable to the spread of communism (e.g. Malaya, Indonesia in 1950’s early 1960’s) from China / NVN down the same land chain which the Japanese had advanced and threatened it less than 20 years earlier. Australia’s goading related to an apparent switch or indifference in American foreign policy towards Australia arising over West Irian and Indonesia. This alarmed Australia as it feared being cut adrift by the US, to which it had hitched itself during WWII and Korea. Australia wanted to engage America militarily in the defence of S.E. Asia against communism, to lock America into forward defence of Australia which was beyond Australia’s military capacity. This happened to coincide with America’s own reasons for getting into Vietnam. A much more detailed analysis is here http://www.vvaa.org.au/bross-2.pdf



Could anyone shed any light as to the political powers or otherwise that brought the war to a close?

This has probably as good a summary of a long and complex process as you’ll find http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761552642_1/Vietnam_War.html



Was the war really lost before it began?

Probably. The US backed what was essentially a corrupt dictatorship in SVN which suited America’s interests (as if that would be a novelty!), but which couldn’t survive without US support. A fair comparison is with Chiang’s Nationalist forces in China after WWII, which like SVN fought with varying degrees of competence, but like SVN the troops in the field always had above and behind them a politically, financially and morally corrupt bunch of bastards feathering their own nests and pulling in different directions while thousands of men, women and children died pointlessly in their service and as a result of their actions, on and off the battlefield. Both the Nationalists and SVN were probably doomed to lose, sooner or later, to a determined and united enemy like Mao and NVN, and for much the same reasons.

Rising Sun*
03-28-2007, 08:39 PM
They undoubtedly were. Not that the U.S. Army in Vietnam were slouches either. But there was a gradual breakdown in discipline and effectiveness. In fact, I'd say the U.S. Army performed surprisingly well all things considered, the Vietnamese may attest to this, since they had previously dealt with an all-volunteer French Army with the Foreign Legion being filled out with ex-Waffen SS Germans. But the Australians were more professional as soldiers. One example I can cite from a book I've read is that there were some joint exchanges of personnel. And the Aussies used to lament that the Americans were using drugs, and carrying AM/FM radios, in the field, which could cause excessive noise or hinder awareness.


Interesting. I didn't realize Australia had conscription at the time...

There's a few hidden factors in comparing Australian and US forces, which put American forces at a disadvantage in a comparing the effectiveness of troops and units.

1. Although Australia had conscripts, if they really didn't want to go to Vietnam, in most cases they didn't go. There were processes for giving troops the choice before they went, although not uniformly applied in all units. Australian soldiers didn't want to serve with people who didn't want to be there as they would cause obvious problems on and off the battlefield. My understanding is that US conscripts didn't have the same choice. This gave Australian units an advantage in cohesion, determination and general morale.

2. Training is another factor, particularly from the late 1960's when the quality of US troops fell off, and certainly compared with US troops who were there in the mid-60's. Australian infantry had the usual basic training plus months of infantry or other (armour, artillery etc) corps training plus specialised jungle warfare training at Canungra, which was one of the best jungle warfare schools in the world. By the time the average Australian infantry conscript reached Vietnam he had 9 to 11 months of good quality training specifically directed to jungle warfare in Vietnam.My understanding is that the demand for increased numbers of US troops resulted in many being sent over from the late ‘60’s with a great deal less training than Australian troops, which ensured that they could not perform as well. This is an indictment of the American military leadership, not the poor American grunts who had no control over what training they received.

3. Australian training was specifically directed to Australian tactics which were more suited to small scale jungle operations against a fluid enemy than were American tactics, which were more suited to larger scale operations against an enemy which would stand and fight. There was a place for both tactics as both types of engagements occurred in Vietnam. The Americans did well in their general tactical approach of applying overwhelming firepower in large engagements, but they generally failed to adapt their tactics to the smaller engagements which were the daily grind in Vietnam and in which Australians were very good. There is no reason that American troops couldn't have been just as good as Australians in this area, except that American military doctrine which informed their tactics and training was too focused on firepower and force.

4. Short term junior leadership is another factor. American units, or at least Army units, tended to rotate officers through at platoon and company level for relatively short periods, as little as a month, to give them experience, or even just to let them get their combat badge. This ensured that troops often didn't know or get to trust their officers, and vice versa, which has obvious implications for both groups in discipline and battle. Australian units normally kept the officers they trained with until they were killed, wounded, or, in rare cases, removed because they weren’t up to the task. The US practice undermined cohesion at platoon and company level, which is where it matters most on the battlefield. Troops who don’t trust their officers won’t follow them in sticky situations if they can possibly avoid it.

5. Another factor that may bear on cohesion and morale is that I think the US Army continued its WWII practice of not returning recovered wounded to their original units but sending them to another unit. Australians went back to their units when they recovered. If so, and combined with the rotating officers, some American units were bound to be less cohesive than Australian units.

alephh
03-30-2007, 04:41 PM
The US were not defeated militarily, but politically.

I feel it wasn't a political defeat either, maybe more like military leadership/intelligence/PR defeat...

U.S. Generals/military said things like "NVA is getting weaker" - the exact opposite happened with TET - U.S. Military lost their credibility. Without that the political pressure wouldn't have been so bad.


People often try to make out that the US was somehow defeated on the battlefield and driven out, but this is simply not true.

But U.S. military wasn't exactly winning the war on the battlefield with it's static military base tactics and so on.

Most insane thing, in my opinion, is that in Philippines 1946-1955 U.S. soldiers/advisers formed and used (with locals) a nearly perfect counter-guerilla warfare campaign. And then in Vietnam War, they used totally wrong/opposite methods, ignoring everything they have learned. :-o



_

32Bravo
04-05-2007, 04:12 PM
Ignorance was never a factor in the American endeavour in Vietnam pursued through five presidences, although it was to become an excuse. Ignorance of country and culture there may have been, but not ignorance of the contra-indications, even the barriers, to achieving the objectives of American policy. All the conditions and reasons precluding a successful outcome were foreseen at one time or another during the thirty years of American involvement. American intervention was not a progress sucked step by step into an unsuspected quagmire. At no time were policy-makers unaware of the hazards, obstacles and negative developments. American intelligence was adequate, informed observation flowed steadily from the field to the capital, special investigative missions were repeatedly sent out, independant reportage to balance professional optimism - when that prevailed - was never lacking. The folly consisted not in pursuit of a goal in ignorance of the obstacles but in the persistance in the pursuit despite accumulating evidence that the goal was unattainable, and the effect disproportionate to the American interest and eventually damaging to American society, reputation and disposable power in the world.

2nd of foot
04-06-2007, 04:41 PM
The TET offensive was a media victory for the NVA. NV and the US press portrayed it as this. In reality it was a total defeat for the NVA. After Tet they could not field major units in one place and if they did they were destroyed. The bombing of NV, if continued would have ended the war but this method was not acceptable to the US media and was stopped.

The US lost because America lost the will to win.

32Bravo
04-07-2007, 03:49 AM
Up until Tet, the U.S. thought they were winning. A perceived defeat for the NVA/VC in the field, but a victory for the North in the political war, where it mattered. Giap and Ho were aware that the North could not succeed militarily with Tet (not in the orthodox sense that is), that wasn't the mission. The mission was accomplished successfully.

Khe Sahn, as a 'come-on' - superb move. Tet was a fanastically planned and executed offensive.

Giap's name should be up there with the greats.

32Bravo
04-08-2007, 04:26 AM
We can argue that the U.S. won the tactical battles of the Tet Offensive, or not, but the U.S. certainly lost the strategic battle, and that was the one that the U.S. should have won to succeed in Vietnam. It was the battle that the Vietnamese did win. Why did the U.S. lose the strategic battle? Well, it goes back many years.

The road to American failure in Vietnam began with the death of Franklin D Roosevelt in April 1945. Roosevelt was against allowing the French back into Indo-China, and for an independent, Vietnamese government.

With the ending of the war in Europe, De Gaul was, eventually, able to convince Truman that it was necessary for France to re-occupy Indo-China to prevent France itself becoming a satellite of the USSR. This action succeeded in driving the Vietnamese into the 'communist camp'.

With the fall of China to the communists, the war in Korea, the Malayan Emergency, and the inevitable defeat of France in Indo-China, it became more paramount to the U.S. that communist expansion must be halted in Vietnam.

John F Kennedy, neither a liberal nor a conservative, Kennedy was an operator of quick intelligence and strong ambition who stated many elevated principles convincingly, eloquently, even passionately, while his actions did not always match. In major offices of government and the White House staff, he put men of active mind, proven ability and, as far as possible, a hard-headed attitude to match his own. Mostly men of his age, in their forties, they were not the social philosophers, innovators and idealists of the ‘New Deal’.

Robert McNamara, a prodigy of the Harvard Business School, of ‘systems analysis’ for the Air Force during WW2 and of rapid rise afterwards to presidency of the Ford Motor Company, was characteristic and outstanding choice for Secretary of Defence. Precise and positive, McNamara was a specialist of management through ‘statistical control’, as he had demonstrated both in the Air Force and at Ford. Anything could be quantified was his realm. Though said to be sincere as an Old Testament prophet, he had the ruthlessness of uninterrupted success, and his genius for statistics left little respect for human variables (Hmmm?) and no room for unpredictables (even louder –Hmmm?).

Kennedy: “If it (Vietnam) were ever converted into a white man’s (read non-Asiatic) war, we should lose it as the French had lost a decade earlier.”


McNamara: “We have the power to knock any society out of the twentieth century.”


Like Kennedy, many of his associates were combat veterans of WW2, having served as Navy officers and fliers, as bombardiers and navigators, and in the case of Roger Hilsman, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, as leader of an OSS unit behind the Japanese lines in Burma. Power and status exhilarated these men and their fellows: they enjoyed the urgencies, even the exhaustion, of government; they liked to call themselves ‘crisis managers’, they tried hard, applied their skills and intelligence, were reputed the ‘the best and the brightest – and were soon to discover that rather than controlling circumstances, circumstances controlled them.

Military theory and strategy underwent a major change with the advent of the Kennedy administration. Appalled by the plans based on ‘massive retaliation’ which the military under Eisenhower had embraced, Kennedy and McNamara turned to the ideas of the new school of defence intellectuals expressed in their doctrine of limited war. Its aims were not conquest but coercion; force would be used on a rationally calculated basis to alter the enemy’s will and capabilities to the point where ‘the advantages of terminating the conflict were greater than the advantages of continuing it’. War would be rationally ‘managed’ in such a way as to send messages to the opposing belligerent, who would respond rationally to the pain and damage inflicted on him by desisting from the actions that caused them.

One thing was left out of account by the new doctrine – the other side.

War is polarity.

What if the other side failed to respond rationally to the coercive message? Appreciation of the human factor was not McNamara’s strongest point, and the possibility that humankind is not rational was too eccentric and disruptive to be programmed into his analysis.

Source: B W Tuchman - The March of Folly.
and others which I am forgetful of.

Shadow Of Evil
04-08-2007, 09:53 AM
Well it all started as a fight to end communism... such as with the soviets Apparantly Eisenhower thought that if vietnam was allowed to be a communist country, then all other asian countries would follow , like a domino effect.

If i am wrong sorry! I have only studied up to WWII so far.

32Bravo
04-08-2007, 10:26 AM
Well it all started as a fight to end communism... such as with the soviets Apparantly Eisenhower thought that if vietnam was allowed to be a communist country, then all other asian countries would follow , like a domino effect.

If i am wrong sorry! I have only studied up to WWII so far.


Interesting that you should bring Eisenhower into the equaion. Eisenhower's attention was somewhat focussed on Laos. Yes, Vietnam did become the pre-dominant 'Domino'. Not so much a fight to end communism, but a fight to halt the expansion of communism. Hence, the Domino Theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domino_theory

32Bravo
04-08-2007, 10:49 AM
It was only two weeks before Kennedy was sworn into office as President of the USA, that Nikita Khrushchev presented the U.S. with a very decisive chellenge by declaring that national 'wars of liberation' would be become the vehicle for the advancement of the communist cause. These 'just wars', said Khruschev, wherever they occurred, be it Cuba, Vietnam, Algeria, would receive full Soviet support.

Rising Sun*
04-11-2007, 11:31 PM
America's biggest success in Vietnam was disengaging successfully, which it did when it accepted the political reality that China was the regional power and that it could not contain regional communism militarily.

Nixon, who is remembered most for some misdeeds, was masterful in engaging successfully with China to enable American disengagement, although that was disastrous from the South Vietnamese viewpoint. It was all the more remarkable given Nixon's rabid anti-communist activities in the 1950's.

What's interesting is that before and during WWII, Roosevelt saw China as the dominant force in the region, and in time as a major world power, and wanted to nurture and cultivate it. His successors lacked the same foresight.

What's even more interesting is that in the late 1940's or early 1950's (rusty on dates) Ho Chi Minh, foolishly believing in America's advertised commitment to liberty and independence, made approaches to the US for US support for Vietnamese independence. IIRC these approaches never got far beyond the relevant desk in the State Department. Given America's hostility to French and British colonialism, it's surprising that more attention wasn't given to these approaches, but America's obsession with communism blinded it to any engagement with communists for a couple of decades until Nixon engaged fully with one of the two main communist powers. An awful lot of death, destruction and misery in both Vietnams could have been avoided if America had engaged with Ho at the outset.

The lesson for the future is that America is now in much the same position in Iraq, being forced to stay there to contain Iran as the major regional power exporting the current feared 'ism' (Islamo-fascism) without having any prospect of long term military success until a new Administration can free itself of the blinkered approach of the current mob and engage successfully with Iran. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

32Bravo
04-12-2007, 04:07 PM
Of course, the Brits shared occupation with China in 1945. Chek didn't want to know, he had enough problems with Mao. When Ho's delegation introduced themselves to the Brits, they were chucked out. The Brits were concerned for their own colonies and, therefore, didn't want to be seen supporting another group of discidents.

Ho was reputedly a communist and, given the terror of the time, could not be condoned by the U.S. even though the OSS had been supporting him against the Japanese during the war.

An independant Vietnam would have been a good defense against communist China's expansion, but everyone at the time figuered that they would collaborate with China to spread the social message.

Nixon was good for America. He taught them not to trust their presidents.

Laconia
04-12-2007, 07:28 PM
We lost because the Congress cut off the funding of the war and the media did everything they could to cast our attempt to defeat the Communists as a losing proposition. Plus, the politicians did not let the military prosecute the war to the fullest extent. We only have to look at how the majority of the media is reporting the war in Iraq. Nothing piositive -everything negative. Also, the Democrats seek to appease the Islamo - Facsists, and not giving the President any support, even though they voted to invade Irag. What happened concerning Vietnam is happening again.

Rising Sun*
04-12-2007, 08:04 PM
An independant Vietnam would have been a good defense against communist China's expansion, but everyone at the time figuered that they would collaborate with China to spread the social message.


I think that when it came to understanding Vietnam America, just as it has done in Iraq, failed to appreciate both the realities and subtleties of the situation.

Vietnam and China were traditional enemies rather than allies. Vietnam accepted help from China during the Vietnam war, but the Sino-Vietnamese war in 1979 indicates their attitude to each other when not united to fight a common enemy.

The essential problem seems to be that up to about the mid/late-1960's, and especially to the mid-1950's when Vietnam's future was being decided, the West and the US in particular tended to regard "communism" as a monolith crossing all borders and representing a unified threat to the West. In reality it was different things in different countries and not in the least united, but the West failed to grasp this, and so failed to grasp the opportunities that went with it for different relations with different communist inspired national independence movements.

Again, this parallels current events where "Islamic terrorists" or "Muslim fundamentalists" or "Islamo-fascists" are lumped into one basket when they have different aims in different places and in some instances are in full-out war with each other. Tarring everybody with the same brush prevents negotiation with individual groups on terms that might be productive, at least in those cases where it is possible to negotiate with them.

Laconia
04-12-2007, 09:26 PM
I think that when it came to understanding Vietnam America, just as it has done in Iraq, failed to appreciate both the realities and subtleties of the situation.

Vietnam and China were traditional enemies rather than allies. Vietnam accepted help from China during the Vietnam war, but the Sino-Vietnamese war in 1979 indicates their attitude to each other when not united to fight a common enemy.

The essential problem seems to be that up to about the mid/late-1960's, and especially to the mid-1950's when Vietnam's future was being decided, the West and the US in particular tended to regard "communism" as a monolith crossing all borders and representing a unified threat to the West. In reality it was different things in different countries and not in the least united, but the West failed to grasp this, and so failed to grasp the opportunities that went with it for different relations with different communist inspired national independence movements.

Again, this parallels current events where "Islamic terrorists" or "Muslim fundamentalists" or "Islamo-fascists" are lumped into one basket when they have different aims in different places and in some instances are in full-out war with each other. Tarring everybody with the same brush prevents negotiation with individual groups on terms that might be productive, at least in those cases where it is possible to negotiate with them.

Paragraph 1. Yeas, I agree. At the end of ww2, Ho Chi Min came to the U.S. and asked our help in driving out the French. He actually followed our Constution as a guide. We messed up and supported the French as a longtime ally.
Para 2. Agree totally.
Para 3. While Communisum was "different things in different countries", in the main these movement were supported/encouraged by the Soviet Union. That's why we were so paranoid about Vietnam.
Para 4. Do not agree here. The main imputus behind Al Queida and their associated groups is the return of a worldwide Caliphate. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Syria, Iran will have their little fiefdoms. But make no mistake about it this time, we are talking of the unifying force of religion here! It is not possible to negotate with them seperately. Syria and Iran will continue to stir up trouble wherever they can. The Arab world looks for weeknes and will expoit this (weakness) to the max. The only type of negotiation with this hard core is ruthlessness. The U.S. President should delare that if a nucular bomb ever goes off in an American city, and it is proven that it was Muslim terrorists, Mecca and Medina would be toast.

Rising Sun*
04-13-2007, 09:01 AM
Para 4. Do not agree here. The main imputus behind Al Queida and their associated groups is the return of a worldwide Caliphate. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Syria, Iran will have their little fiefdoms. But make no mistake about it this time, we are talking of the unifying force of religion here! It is not possible to negotate with them seperately. Syria and Iran will continue to stir up trouble wherever they can. The Arab world looks for weeknes and will expoit this (weakness) to the max. The only type of negotiation with this hard core is ruthlessness. The U.S. President should delare that if a nucular bomb ever goes off in an American city, and it is proven that it was Muslim terrorists, Mecca and Medina would be toast.

This is a topic in itself, probably many,many topics.

If you'd like to pursue it, which I would, how about starting it in Off Topic Militaria in http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=55

Your quote above is a good opening.

Laconia
04-13-2007, 10:48 PM
This is a topic in itself, probably many,many topics.

If you'd like to pursue it, which I would, how about starting it in Off Topic Militaria in http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=55

Your quote above is a good opening.

Go ahead, you start. I'm chicken.

Rising Sun*
04-15-2007, 09:14 PM
Go ahead, you start. I'm chicken.

You might be wise to be chicken. Maybe we should leave it alone.

Vassili Chukolov
04-30-2007, 04:45 PM
If it weren't all the political stuff in the way, yeah, America and other allies could have gone straight to Hanoi. But with the political stuff, we had to back down. And the causulties considered 'light' compared to some other wars. Really, did we lose or not? People have different views and thoughts about the war that makes a topic like this, keep going and going, like the energy bunny.

Nickdfresh
05-04-2007, 05:52 PM
Well it all started as a fight to end communism... such as with the soviets Apparantly Eisenhower thought that if vietnam was allowed to be a communist country, then all other asian countries would follow , like a domino effect.

If i am wrong sorry! I have only studied up to WWII so far.

Unfortunately, Ike had to subvert Democracy by canceling elections in 1956 in order to "fight communism."

32Bravo
07-05-2007, 02:09 PM
Well, from what I have read, it would seem that the more appropriate question would be - How could America have won?

From my understanding, it was lost before 1965. There are many misleading myths about the war. In the first instance, the French should never have been allowed back there, and after they had been defeated, there was no way anyone was going to defeat the north Vietnamese. If the US had invaded the north and taken Hanoi, they would still have lost. All of the problems of winning in the south would have been small beer comapared with winning and holding the whole of the country. By 1965 it was far too late for anyone to prevent the north from succeeding in ultimate victory. It was probably far too late in 1954.

namvet
06-29-2008, 08:23 PM
we lost because of LBJ. and his fear of killing Russian advisors in the north and would bring Russia into that war.

we lost because of LBJ ordered pilots to stop bombing high priority targets.

we lost because LBJ could not stand up under the media storm and pressure from anti war protesters

we knew after tet the north was finished with that war. we were sitting around waiting for the paper to be signed so we could go home.

we lost because in 1968 LBJ ordered a bombing halt of the north. and a general retreat.

and we knew that gave time for the north to rearm and resupply and start a new offensive. which the did.

we lost because the North was counting heavy on the anti war media and anti war movement here. and they got it. in spades.

we lost because of no leadership. and political screw ups that cost us all.

we lost because we were ordered out. or is that really losing ?????

bwing55543
09-07-2008, 08:25 PM
I can think of a few reasons.

The US did not appear to have any real military objectives, other than halting communism. Vietnam appeared to be a defensive war where the American military would consider itself victorious if it managed to prevent communist forces from taking a South Vietnamese cities. In World War II, the US could measure their success in the war by how much territory they gained after a battle. I feel that if the US wanted to go all-out, and abandon their "limited war" principles, the US could have just blown Hanoi right off the map and installed a pro-US government in Vietnam. As people mentioned before, it has a lot to do with the politics behind the war.

Also, the US lost the war because of the nature of the enemy. As Iraq also proves, the US military was always very effective against a conventional army, not so against a guerilla one. The Vietcong especially, could use the tactic of hiding in a jungle, wait for an American squad to patrol near there, pop a few grunts, and then disperse into the jungle. It didn't help that the Vietcong did not have uniforms, so the Americans were not able to tell Vietcong from civillian (hence, the massacre at My-Lai). In Vietnam, the US definitely had air superiority. Again, in World War II, when the US was facing other conventional armies, the air superiority was an immense help. However, in Vietnam, when the US did not even know where the enemy was half the time, air power was not enough to win the war.

In general, I define the Vietnam War as an American experiment in Asia gone horribly wrong. If anything, far from preventing the spread of communism, the Americans helped spread it by getting Laos and Cambodia in on the side of the communists; they wound up bombing those two countries when trying to get to the Ho Chi Minh trail.

Nickdfresh
09-07-2008, 09:04 PM
we lost because of LBJ. and his fear of killing Russian advisors in the north and would bring Russia into that war.

we lost because of LBJ ordered pilots to stop bombing high priority targets.

we lost because LBJ could not stand up under the media storm and pressure from anti war protesters

we knew after tet the north was finished with that war. we were sitting around waiting for the paper to be signed so we could go home.

we lost because in 1968 LBJ ordered a bombing halt of the north. and a general retreat.

and we knew that gave time for the north to rearm and resupply and start a new offensive. which the did.

we lost because the North was counting heavy on the anti war media and anti war movement here. and they got it. in spades.

we lost because of no leadership. and political screw ups that cost us all.

we lost because we were ordered out. or is that really losing ?????

So why didn't Nixon win it all?

namvet
09-07-2008, 09:06 PM
So why didn't Nixon win it all?

once again. with clarity

Nickdfresh
09-07-2008, 09:28 PM
I can think of a few reasons.

The US did not appear to have any real military objectives, other than halting communism. Vietnam appeared to be a defensive war where the American military would consider itself victorious if it managed to prevent communist forces from taking a South Vietnamese cities. In World War II, the US could measure their success in the war by how much territory they gained after a battle. I feel that if the US wanted to go all-out, and abandon their "limited war" principles, the US could have just blown Hanoi right off the map and installed a pro-US government in Vietnam. As people mentioned before, it has a lot to do with the politics behind the war.

It was a war of attrition, designed to wear down the North in their goal of uniting the South without provkoing a confrontation with the Soviets or the Chinese. Nor did the US have the resources nor fortitude to invade the North, which would have resulted in tens of thousands more US casualties and possibly Armageddon...


Also, the US lost the war because of the nature of the enemy.

The couldn't "win" nor "lose" the war because it was a Vietnamese civil war. Not "our" war. The Saigon regime was hideously corrupt and largely comprised of the soft "Catholic" minority leisure class. Most of whom had collaborated with the French during their colonial occupation, and were thusly tainted and devoid of legitimacy...



As Iraq also proves, the US military was always very effective against a conventional army, not so against a guerilla one. The Vietcong especially, could use the tactic of hiding in a jungle, wait for an American squad to patrol near there, pop a few grunts, and then disperse into the jungle. It didn't help that the Vietcong did not have uniforms, so the Americans were not able to tell Vietcong from civillian (hence, the massacre at My-Lai).

Completely untrue. The US, and their RVN allies, largely destroyed the VC/National Liberation Front via the "Phoenix Program." Something that was largely forgotten by the US military until "the Surge" in Iraq. The failure of Iraq was that the US forgot some of its successes in Vietnam regarding counterinsurgency...


It was the tanks of the North Vietnamese Army that took Saigon, not the black-pajamaed revolutionaries of the VC/NLF...

Incidentally, they DID have a uniform. The infamous "black pajamas" uniform. In any case, there was even a difference within the VC, from "Main Force Regulars" to the paddy farmer that had an AK and might join an attack occasionally...


In Vietnam, the US definitely had air superiority. Again, in World War II, when the US was facing other conventional armies, the air superiority was an immense help. However, in Vietnam, when the US did not even know where the enemy was half the time, air power was not enough to win the war.

The US air power question was again one of a high tech industrial society building an air arm designed to destroy another high tech industrial society...Which is why it largely failed in the agrarian world of Vietnam...


In general, I define the Vietnam War as an American experiment in Asia gone horribly wrong. If anything, far from preventing the spread of communism, the Americans helped spread it by getting Laos and Cambodia in on the side of the communists; they wound up bombing those two countries when trying to get to the Ho Chi Minh trail.

I would characterize it as an abortion and a complete blunder in the vein of the Cold War mentality of binary oppositions of US vs. USSR, monolithic communism, and a complete acquaintance to the French post-WWII neo-colonial aspirations. We possibly could have made Ho Chi Minh "ours" if we had forced a French withdrawal and had not been so paranoid about "commies." I mean, he did cite the US Constitution in his declaration of independence and we did cancel an election in the late 1950s to prevent him from winning...

Nickdfresh
09-07-2008, 09:30 PM
once again. with clarity

Meaning?

Rising Sun*
09-08-2008, 06:23 AM
It was a war of attrition, designed to wear down the North in their goal of uniting the South without provkoing a confrontation with the Soviets or the Chinese.

It has long been forgotten in most circles that the original US aim was only to maintain the status quo in SVN. Although the situation in SVN changed after that, the war continued essentially on that basis but with the objective becoming more confused and harder to obtain, and less easy to identify if ever it was obtained.

It was a failure, through political control of military matters, of the basic military principles of:

1. Identify the Aim.
2. Maintain the Aim.

The military was hamstrung by the politicians. The military failure lies primarily at the feet of American politicians who hamstrung the military. As do the deaths of far too many people on both sides during an idiotic military excercise lie at the feet of the same politicians.

Who in their right mind fights a war with no intention of taking the steps needed to win it?

Politicians, obviously. :evil:


Nor did the US have the resources nor fortitude to invade the North, which would have resulted in tens of thousands more US casualties and possibly Armageddon...

I disagree, so far as a military conquest of NVN is concerned. It was entirely within US, SVN and allied nations' military capacity.

NVN survived only because its enemies refused to advance through the DMZ, or just leapfrog it and land by sea further north to deal with what was left after an unrestricted bombing campaign.

The Tet Offensive damaged NVN and the VC militarily to the point that SVN, which did the bulk of the ground fighting, and the US etc could have pressed the advantage all the way to Hanoi under American air and sea power, if the political will was there.

But, as you say, it was the Armageddon factor which inhibited such an attack on NVN, and continued a miserable abortion for pointless years by waving a bloodied knitting needle at the patient's groin rather than thrusting it into the womb.

Adrian Wainer
09-09-2008, 06:39 PM
Well the USA did not lose the War on the ground, it lost the War on the television in the sitting room of American families. But for all practical purposes it was much the same thing, since the North overran the South and several other Asian states fell to "communist" rule. It is very difficult to give a simple analysis of just how things went wrong for America in Vietnam, because the US made so many mistakes and the mistakes were all interacting together to make an even bigger mess, it is hard to see exactly what were the critical problems.

First of all should the US ever have got involved in the first place, one can produce a reasoned argument that Ho Chi Min was a Vietnamese nationalist first and a communist very much second and that US should have backed Ho Chi Min and since China and Vietnam have a tradition of regional animosity even a Communist leaning Vietnam would have had a very standoff relationship with China. So Ho Chi Min could have been a Vietnamese Tito for the West, communist leaning but not part of the Anti-western Communist block. The other argument is that there is a definite cultural difference between the North of Vietnam and the South and that the Southern regime corrupt as it was, was a legitimate national Government ( and as for the corruption issues, yes for sure the Southern regime was corrupt but so were then and still are today many states and America e.g. did not abolish slavery till after the civil war and immediatly after 9/11 there seemed to be one rule as to who and what could fly with respect to the Bin-Ladens, so that even medical ambulance aircraft that fly organ donor transplant materiel were grounded but the Bin-Ladens had apparently no problem arranging a private jet to whisk them back to Araby ) and who are more corrupt than the Communists? Like if Jane Fonda thought North Vietnam was such a great place, why didn't she go live there instead of appearing on the TV flogging a fancy French face cream that will do the same thing as a cheapo brand sold in the likes Walmart except at the privledge of costing several times the price of the cheapo brand, for the French product. So the US did have the choice of supporting Ho Chi Min or the South and it chose the South. In fact there was a third choice the US could have decided not to have got involved at all. But the US chose the South, any of the three choices 1 supporting Ho Chi Min 2 Supporting the South 3 decideing not to become involved, were legitimate options in my view. So that the US in deciding to support the South was a legitimate choice.

Then the mistakes started, the US pursued a gradualist approach to the build up to the War, this gave the North an opportunity to develop the skills to negate many of the advantages provided by superior American technology, North Vietnam should have been hit hard from the get go. The risks of bringing in the Russians were slight, in that why would European Russians from Moscow want to go to War over a bunch of "slanty eyed" [ NB I am not being racist, I am just trying to put myself in the shoes of the Soviets ] Vietnamese foreigners. As for China, the Vietnamese and Chinese hate one another, so I can't see them having been too particularly concerned, as long as the objective did not go beyond making it non-viable for North Vietnam to threaten the South. The idea of bombing North Vietnam in to the stone age was a particularly silly one, since North Vietnam was an agricultural third world country and the important high technology military products were coming from the USSR, what was certainly possible was to reduce North Vietnam to the level of bicycle and horse transport and reduce any North Vietnamese military facility like airfields to ruin. This was not done and instead we had the idiocy of major military targets in North Vietnam being off limits to US airstrikes, whilst the US was engaging in heavy duty air strikes in South Vietnam using fastmovers like the F4 Phantom II, which was frankly nuts since the South was the country the US was supposed to be defending. The idea of rotating the US forces out of Vietnam after a twelve month tour of duty was another dumb *** thing to do, in that as soon as the troops started to get a feel for the country they were shipped out and officers rotated out after an even shorter time. Then there was the greatest dumbass of them all, General Westmoreland who pursued a War of attrition, when the primary objective was not to kill NVA or Vietcong but to secure the future of South Vietnam. The killing of NVA and Vietcong in a strategy of attrition was doomed to failure from the get go, in that since North Vietnam was essentially off limits to attack by the US, the North Vietnamese could turn up and down the war as it suited them and whilst America with its superior technology and firepower could always kill more NVA and Vietcong than they could kill Americans, since the Americans were fighting in a foreign country [ South Vietnam ] with a freepress back in the US, all the North Vietnamese had to do was kill enough Americans to convince the folks backhome in the US, that they were in a War against an enemy which would never give up for a country [ ie South Vietnam ] that was not worth fighting for, which the North achieved. The Americans were not beaten by crafty North Vietnamese guerillas making ambushes in the jungle as is popularly believed but an inability of the US Government once having decided to become involved to pursue old fashioned military tactics of hitting an enemy so hard he decides he is playing out of his league and decides to throw in the ball, which is what would have happened if the fierce determination of the North Vietnamese regime to annex South Vietnam had run in to the problem that their activities in seeking to over-run the South had so provoked the US that the regime in the North was in danger of imploding due to US attacks on its infrastructure.

Best and Warm Regards
Adrian Wainer

Churchill
09-09-2008, 07:07 PM
The military was hamstrung by the politicians. The military failure lies primarily at the feet of politicians who hamstrung the military.

Fixed.

And which war does this remind me of...?:rolleyes:

Nickdfresh
09-09-2008, 07:36 PM
It has long been forgotten in most circles that the original US aim was only to maintain the status quo in SVN. Although the situation in SVN changed after that, the war continued essentially on that basis but with the objective becoming more confused and harder to obtain, and less easy to identify if ever it was obtained.

Correct.


It was a failure, through political control of military matters, of the basic military principles of:

1. Identify the Aim.
2. Maintain the Aim.

The military was hamstrung by the politicians. The military failure lies primarily at the feet of American politicians who hamstrung the military. As do the deaths of far too many people on both sides during an idiotic military excercise lie at the feet of the same politicians.

Who in their right mind fights a war with no intention of taking the steps needed to win it?

Politicians, obviously. :evil:

It was both politicians and the military. The military and civilian planners at the Pentagon routinely sent gloomy reports of what was actually going on on the ground, and also the inherent fallibility of the Saigon regime. There was little hope nor optimism that the South could survive against determined Northern efforts to unify the country, and most of that traces back to the very legitimacy of the South in the eyes of its citizens and the near constant turmoil of the political situation which led to a military system that was inherently corrupt and pretty much sapped the will of the ARVN. It has been stated more than once that both the LBJ and Nixon Administrations routinely made private analysis's that directly contradicted their rosy public statements; and Nixon especially only sought to delay the fall of Saigon for as long as possible after the US exit.


I disagree, so far as a military conquest of NVN is concerned. It was entirely within US, SVN and allied nations' military capacity.

NVN survived only because its enemies refused to advance through the DMZ, or just leapfrog it and land by sea further north to deal with what was left after an unrestricted bombing campaign.

The Tet Offensive damaged NVN and the VC militarily to the point that SVN, which did the bulk of the ground fighting, and the US etc could have pressed the advantage all the way to Hanoi under American air and sea power, if the political will was there.

But, as you say, it was the Armageddon factor which inhibited such an attack on NVN, and continued a miserable abortion for pointless years by waving a bloodied knitting needle at the patient's groin rather than thrusting it into the womb.


Really? The South could barely defend itself against the NLF, and they were almost useless against NVA. What is often conveniently forgotten is that most of the ARVN soldiers were still carrying WWII vintage US rifles in 1968, somewhat silly since they average height of the South Vietnamese soldier was about 5'4" and they probably weighed less that 130lbs., yet they were carrying heavy, ten pound M-1s and Carbines that were no match for the AK-47s and SKS rifles carried by the Northerners, had a tank force that was vastly inferior to the North, had a very static warfare-centric mindset that was strictly "nine-to-five," and they were heavily dependent on US firepower...

Could the US have invaded above the 17th parallel? Perhaps. But I think you're looking at things in a vacuum a bit. Firstly, it WAS considered and Gen. Westmorland put in a troop request for 200,000 additional soldiers that would begin heading Northward. The problem with this? Where exactly were they going to come from? General mobilization? US forces assigned to NATO would have been severally weakened, and if the Soviets had decided to make a move, the US would almost certainly have had to use nuclear weapons. Secondly, the North Vietnamese Army had heavily fortified their border with bunker complexes and were employing classic defense in-depth that would have drastically increased US casualties making the War completely politically untenable at home. And as mentioned, simply the chance of bringing the Chinese into the War was a risk too great to even fathom. But also, the public support for the War was spiraling downward as American "boys" were coming back too their small towns in silver caskets. One of the key factors to the Tet Offensive destroying the last major vestige of majority US support for the War was the continued "Saigon Press Conference" madness in which statements and body counts, vastly inflated ones, were touted as a continued mantra of "we're winning! The light is at the end of the tunnel!"

The truth is that the military was every bit as disingenuous as the civilian leadership, and there are clear schisms that the the civilian leadership felt somewhat deceived by the officer corp on the ground as well. As for the VC/NLF being destroyed by Tet, I agree. But only to an extent...

Some argue that in fact the Hanoi regime purposefully ordered the VC into a suicidal battle of conventional attrition that they could not hope to win against withering American firepower. It is thought by some that the Vietnamese and the US gov't are currently still actively touting the myth that the Viet Cong, or more correctly, the National Liberation Front was little more than a partisan extension of the North Vietnamese Army. But in fact, it did not start out that way. The VC also had an independent political leadership -one that was sorely tested and attrited by US search and destroy operations- and was slowly supplanted by Northerners. But they were still considered a potential rival by Hanoi for complete domination of the South in a reunification. If Tet severally damaged the NLF, they were actually largely defeated by the US-RVN "Operation Phoenix" designed to eliminate the NLF hierarchy in much the same way they have previously attacked the Saigon regime: through captures of high value targets, state terror, and outright assassination.

Rising Sun*
09-09-2008, 09:31 PM
Could the US have invaded above the 17th parallel? Perhaps. But I think you're looking at things in a vacuum a bit. Firstly, it WAS considered and Gen. Westmorland put in a troop request for 200,000 additional soldiers that would begin heading Northward. The problem with this? Where exactly were they going to come from? General mobilization? US forces assigned to NATO would have been severally weakened, ...... Secondly, the North Vietnamese Army had heavily fortified their border with bunker complexes and were employing classic defense in-depth that would have drastically increased US casualties making the War completely politically untenable at home.

Which is why I referred to (a) amphibious landings further north, thus getting behind the enemy's strongholds, rather than trying to punch through them from the south by land, and (b) unrestricted (conventional) bombing and naval support.

The North was weaker in its resolve to continue the war than the US understood, as demonstrated by the way it backed off when Nixon let it be known he was thinking about nuking the North.

If the air ordnance actually applied to ploughing up jungle in NVN and SVN and elsewhere (often for fairly futile purposes like trying to stop supplies coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail) had been applied to softening up major strategic points for amphibious landings and for supporting those landings and subsequent operations, and if Agent Orange had been applied to NVN food crops instead of to jungle in SVN, I suspect that the North would have been a lot more amenable to withdrawing from SVN when facing the prospect of defeat and starvation in its own territory.

The biggest flaw in the whole SVN, US etc approach was in making it clear to NVN that they wouldn't go north of the 17th parallel by land. This allowed NVN to export the land war to SVN while suffering aerial bombardment with no prospect of it being invaded or conquered. The NVN leadership was always prepared to accept that as the cost of continuing its war in SVN, secure in the knowledge that aerial bombardment couldn't conquer it.

We're witnessing something similar in Afghanistan, with Pakistan playing the part of NVN and exporting war into Afghanistan while being largely immune from incursions into its own territory by the US etc, although one recently pissed them off mightily. If you don't go into the enemy's heartland on foot and conquer him, the war will go on as long as your enemy wants it to. It's not rocket science, but politicians and their military advisers seem incapable of grasping this simple fact.

Nickdfresh
09-10-2008, 11:15 AM
From a purely military standpoint, an amphibious landing would have been the way to go. But the two factors I've mentioned, the constrictions of US military power place on it by its global commitments, the anti-War movement at home, and the specter of again fighting huge numbers of Red Chinese "Volunteers" was probably not palatable to either Johnson nor Nixon. Also, this would have healed the schism between China and the USSR, at least temporarily. Westmorland already had 500,000+ US servicemen in Vietnam at the peak, and asked for 200,000 more. There simply were not enough to send without total mobilization in the event that tensions increased with the Soviets. In some circles it was viewed on whether one would rather save South Vietnam, or West Germany. It's been a while, but I think the US Army of the period was perhaps 1.1 or 1.2 million men? How many would have been committed to an Asian backwater and for how long? Would the US's unreliable, sketchy ARVN allies be much use? What of the occupation even if China doesn't become directly involved?

I think one of the real factors was that the US was doing almost all of the real fighting by 1966, and the ARVN was little more than a rear security force aside from the elites like the Rangers and the Marines (who were armed with M-16s like the average GI). One thing I've always thought was that the US should possibly have dissolved the useless, corrupt Saigon regime that set an example of rot allowing pansy, dandies to lead the ARVN, men who spent more time stealing their soldiers pay than really dealing with the threat of the VC or NVA. In short, the US should have started "Vietnamization" much earlier, reconstituted the RVN forces with officer promotions based on merit rather than family connections, and essentially allowed the Vietnamese ARVN to take on its own cultural identity. Many ARVN officers felt as if they were trying to turn them into a mini-US Army...

It was a Vietnamese Civil War when it comes down to it, and unfortunately, the US failed to sway Uncle Ho over to its side, and mindlessly backed the French colonialists. The War was really lost in 1946...

Rising Sun*
09-10-2008, 07:55 PM
From a purely military standpoint, an amphibious landing would have been the way to go. But the two factors I've mentioned, the constrictions of US military power place on it by its global commitments, the anti-War movement at home, and the specter of again fighting huge numbers of Red Chinese "Volunteers" was probably not palatable to either Johnson nor Nixon. Also, this would have healed the schism between China and the USSR, at least temporarily. Westmorland already had 500,000+ US servicemen in Vietnam at the peak, and asked for 200,000 more. There simply were not enough to send without total mobilization in the event that tensions increased with the Soviets. In some circles it was viewed on whether one would rather save South Vietnam, or West Germany. It's been a while, but I think the US Army of the period was perhaps 1.1 or 1.2 million men? How many would have been committed to an Asian backwater and for how long? Would the US's unreliable, sketchy ARVN allies be much use? What of the occupation even if China doesn't become directly involved?

All true, and all the more reason why the US should never have got so deeply involved when it was well aware beforehand of the problems involving the Soviets and China if it tried to fight the war to win, as distinct from keeping NVN out of SVN.

It's a paradox that the US was keen to fight in Vietnam to stall expansion by 'the communists', which the US tended to see as one group rather than as quite distinct forms of communism and nationalism in various countries, but at the same time it wasn't game to fight the NVN communists to win because doing so might bring in the Soviet and or Chinese communists. Just another example of poor thinking at the time, rather than the wisdom of hindsight.


I think one of the real factors was that the US was doing almost all of the real fighting by 1966, and the ARVN was little more than a rear security force aside from the elites like the Rangers and the Marines (who were armed with M-16s like the average GI).

I'm not sure about that. ARVN deaths were around 200,000, some say around 250,000, which is around four times American deaths. Perhaps they had a higher death rate than Americans because of inferior training, leadership, equipment and air support, but they were clearly heavily engaged in action.

I seem to recall some analysis (maybe several) which showed ARVN did the bulk of the fighting, and they certainly did all the fighting after the US and its allies pulled out, but that this is not recognised outside Vietnamese circles as the Western media concentrated on Western, primarily American, operations.


One thing I've always thought was that the US should possibly have dissolved the useless, corrupt Saigon regime that set an example of rot allowing pansy, dandies to lead the ARVN, men who spent more time stealing their soldiers pay than really dealing with the threat of the VC or NVA.

What were the chances of that when the US started out by supporting the biggest crook of them all, Diem, and his rotten crew?

Supporting that bunch of crooks was doomed from the outset.


In short, the US should have started "Vietnamization" much earlier, reconstituted the RVN forces with officer promotions based on merit rather than family connections, and essentially allowed the Vietnamese ARVN to take on its own cultural identity. Many ARVN officers felt as if they were trying to turn them into a mini-US Army...

Definitely.

There was an element of American arrogance that American military superiority would prevail in a type of war American forces were ill-equipped by training and outlook to fight because American military doctrine focused on the application of crushing force. This flowed from WWII experience and was fine in Europe during the Vietnam era against anticipated Soviet regular forces, but wholly inadequate against irregulars and hit and run NVA forces. American military policy in Vietnam should have been to engage more closely with the Vietnamese and understand the war from their perspective rather than from the American military operational perspective, which could have avoided alienating a lot of the SVN civilians and military. The essential problem was that American military leaders lacked the right training and attitude to deal with an insurgency, as shown in the following quote, which also outlines other deficiencies in America concentrating on conventional military actions in SVN, and which reinforces the points you have made about the wider geo-political aspects. It's from a paper about the Australian counter-insurgency adviser, Ted Serong.


And just how was a foreign advisor to press advice upon the leaders of a national army of a sovereign state? In his diary entry for September 21, 1962, Serong wrote: "I am sickened to see these little bastards getting away with murder, and to see our boys getting killed while they're graciously making up their minds whether or not they'll take our advice. Maybe they won't want to stop the insurgency". He was in Quang Ngai, commenting on the activities of the 1st Corps of the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN). He continued, "visited CIA station...Brigadier General Kelleher and Gill Strickler both distressed...in I Corps (Military Region 1) an ARVN operation compared to Sherman March through Georgia...this comes back to our `advisory' effort. We must have a `goad' and a `veto.'"(5) Built into the advisory relationship was the urge to take over.

Serong was Advisor on Counterinsurgency to General Paul Harkins, the American commander. General Harkins did not believe in counterinsurgency, but he did not want an advisor. If the U.S. government required other nation's troops to be present in Vietnam, as a show of flags in support of American foreign policy, General Harkins, understandably, did not want other nation commanders in his executive councils. Major General Charles Timmes, the head of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam (MAAG), the command structure to which the Australian team reported, told Serong in mid-June 1963 that Harkins did "not want the Australian crowd as initiators of policy" a concern, Timmes said, which had increased with the possible arrival of a New Zealand contingent. Throughout 1962 and 1963 we find Serong presenting Harkins with a steady stream of reports. A draft for a code of conduct, advice on broadening his sources of intelligence on the enemy, and a note on the key points necessary for the training of the ARVN. Serong's three requirements here were always the same: physical fitness, weapons drills, responsiveness to discipline. The same entry is repeated throughout the diaries. His training notes elaborate: inspection-concentrate on one thing each month, simple things are more important than technology, never give up a pursuit-no matter what. By February 1963 he was writing "at tonight's briefing Harkins gave the appearance of having lost his grasp of the strategic direction of the war, and being prepared to settle for the happenings of the day, the day to day trivia."(6 ) He resolved to accept an invitation from Major General William Yarborough to lecture at the Special Forces Training School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and to put his case in Washington for a unified U.S.-South Vietnamese command.

CONTINUED ...

Rising Sun*
09-10-2008, 07:55 PM
As early as September 1962 Serong had concluded that MACV's reports of progress in the war were wildly optimistic. Territory on the border was being lost in incursions into South Vietnam, he found, the numbers in the Viet Cong were increasing, and the Strategic Hamlet program, the basic internal strategy, was failing because it had been expanded without consolidation. His presentations to Harkins explaining this had no effect, although his analyses were sought by the CIA, in particular by John Richardson, then Saigon station chief, and by journalists critical of Harkins' leadership, among them David Halberstam of the New York Times. In May 1963 at Fort Bragg he elaborated on his analysis, although with some circumspection. You could get impressive figures by counting missions flown, casualties taken and inflicted, stores delivered and ammunition expended, he said, but the only real indicator of progress in a war of counterinsurgency was the volume of intelligence spontaneously offered by the population, since this was the indicator of whether or not the people believed you really could offer them security.(7)

At Fort Bragg, however, and in his talks to the National Security Council he encountered the problem of the junior ally. His advice on tactics and training methods were duly adopted into counterinsurgency courses, he was received and even feted by the representatives of the National Security Council he addressed, but in spite of some interest in his key point that the Strategic Hamlets program was "overextended", advancing too quickly and so leaving gaps for the penetration of the Viet Cong, he could have no influence on strategy.(8) And after all, Serong's rank was Colonel. No-one expected him to be formulating strategy. But he was, and his National Strategy for South Vietnam is instructive of his failure to understand the political considerations in Washington that would dictate the conduct of the war.

In 1962 Serong wrote that the most important thing was that there be a strategy, "something we can see as a positive and forward thing." So far so good, but, as we shall see surprisingly difficult to achieve. Then, "there must be a determination to carry the war to North Vietnam, to roll it back on themselves. It is erroneous to believe that if we continue to react the enemy will tire. He will not, because he is being sustained by China. The U.S. will tire before China, although U.S. has the greater strength, and could force China down if the game became build-up versus build up." The American domestic climate was not ripe for the roll-back, he continued, but what could be done was to negotiate with the Laotian government to cut off North Vietnamese access to South Vietnam through Laos, via the Ho Chi Minh trail. The Laotian city of Tchepone could be commercially developed, and so denied to the enemy, and the whole 17th parallel fortified for eventual war, U.S. regiment to Vietnamese regiment, against the North Vietnamese Army. Since Hanoi began to release materials from its archives in 1995, an oft repeated theme has been surprise that the U.S. did not act to cut off the trail through Laos.(9) This surprise may well be feigned, since fortifying the 17th parallel was never an option in Washington. Serong did not realize that W. Averell Harriman, in 1963 undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, whom he regarded for years as his best ally on the National Security Council, would be the strongest opponent to the disruption of the Laos Accords, which he, Harriman, had negotiated in the first place. He understood that the American public might not accept war with China, but not that the Vietnam war itself was of secondary importance to the real issue, which was American relations with Russia. He could not see from his vantage point in South Vietnam that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the real issue for U.S. foreign policy planners. http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/vietnamcenter/events/1996_Symposium/96papers/tenyears.htm

B5N2KATE
09-11-2008, 06:00 AM
Auatralian combat cameraman NEIL DAVIS covered the ARVN almost exclusively, because, as he said in Tim Bowden's biography of Davis ("One Crowded Hour")....

"The ARVN were doing the majority of the fighting. It was their war, after all....."

This post-war fiction that U.S. Forces conducted most of the important operations in Indochina is FICTION, propagated to this day as a sop for the lack of victory. ARVN operations were downsized when it became obvious to even the lowest of ARVN recruits that the war was unwinnable as prosecuted. Robert Mason recalls conversing with an SVN citizen recruited for work by the First Air Cavalry Division. This man described Ho Chi Minh is a "Great man, who was going to unify the country one day....."
Bob Mason recalls his disgust at this and other sentiments expressed by the very people that units like "The Cav" were supposed to be fighting FOR.....and further records his indignation at "exactly what they were attempting to achieve here."

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 06:37 AM
Auatralian combat cameraman NEIL DAVIS covered the ARVN almost exclusively, because, as he said in Tim Bowden's biography of Davis ("One Crowded Hour")....

"The ARVN were doing the majority of the fighting. It was their war, after all....."

This post-war fiction that U.S. Forces conducted most of the important operations in Indochina is FICTION, propagated to this day as a sop for the lack of victory. ARVN operations were downsized when it became obvious to even the lowest of ARVN recruits that the war was unwinnable as prosecuted. Robert Mason recalls conversing with an SVN citizen recruited for work by the First Air Cavalry Division. This man described Ho Chi Minh is a "Great man, who was going to unify the country one day....."
Bob Mason recalls his disgust at this and other sentiments expressed by the very people that units like "The Cav" were supposed to be fighting FOR.....and further records his indignation at "exactly what they were attempting to achieve here."

That confirms my recollection about ARVN doing the bulk of the fighting, but I can't recall my sources.

In trying to find an internet source (I'm pretty sure there's an ARVN type website somewhere that I've seen), Google threw this up, which illustrates some of the problems ARVN soldiers faced against the wider background of American control of the war.


ARVN: Life and Death in the South Vietnamese Army . By Robert K. Brigham . ( : University of Kansas Press , 2006 . Pp. xiv, 178 . .)

In 1975 one in six able-bodied South Vietnamese males between the ages of sixteen and sixty served in the government's armed forces, and over two hundred thousand men had been lost in combat, but the story of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) soldier remains a black hole in the history of the Vietnam War. Robert K. Brigham's short study, based on interviews with former ARVN veterans and documents in Vietnamese government archives, provides illuminating insights into the lives of the ARVN soldiers.

Brigham confirms established interpretations of the larger causes of ARVN deficiencies and the failures of the Saigon government. However, his three chapters on conscription, training, and morale break new ground with their devastatingly detailed picture of ARVN's inexplicable disregard for the well-being of its men. The unprecedented introduction of universal conscription alienated much of the rural population by denuding the countryside of manpower essential to sustain rural life without providing security or other tangible benefits. Conditions only worsened after conscription. Inadequate political training, shockingly poor combat training, and indifference to the welfare of the soldiers generated feelings of victimization and estrangement. Brigham offers convincing evidence that recruits left boot camp unprepared for combat and convinced that they were inferior to the better-trained Communist forces. Morale was further undermined by low pay, bad food, and an almost nonexistent leave policy. As a result, the basic combat units of ARVN lacked the elemental bonds of solidarity with one another that are the mainstay of any fighting force.

Brigham is especially convincing in showing how individual soldiers adapted to such isolating circumstances. Soldiers brought their families into their barracks and military camps, gave first precedence to family survival, and they fought as members of an extended family. "The focus on families in the absence of any meaningful national program based on the Vietnamese concept of ai quoc (patriotism) meant that ARVN soldiers reverted to the familiar: the comfortable culture-bound dominance of the family in their daily lives." By contrast, "Communists had learned how to transfer filial piety from the family to the village and then to the state" (130).

Misguided American policies contributed to the problems. American advisors first transformed locally based light forces suited for antiguerrilla operations into heavy divisions equipped for conventional war. As ARVN became dependent on American aid, its training and tactics shifted according to ever-changing American preferences. When the U.S. assumed responsibility for major offensive operations in 1967, it relegated ARVN to a secondary role in policing pacified areas. By the time a new strategy of Vietnamization required a more proactive military posture, it was too late to reverse the consequences of long years of neglect and dependency on America.

Brigham's interviews vividly capture the feelings, aspirations, and fears of foot soldiers as they prepared for battle and coped with imminent defeat. ARVN offers thought-provoking insights and raises important questions, but the extreme brevity of the volume imposes significant limits. Although ARVN fought for over fifteen years and suffered very significant casualties, the analysis of its performance on the battlefield is limited to a few battles and a discussion of changing American strategy. Readers learn that some units fought well and others did not, but not why this was the case. The discussion of the Diem regime's approach to political indoctrination and conscription is excellent; by contrast, neither Nguyen Cao Ky nor Nguyen Van Thieu is mentioned by name.

ARVN is a significant contribution that whets our appetite to learn more about ARVN and its soldiers. It also should remind us of pitfalls awaiting American military advisors who want to impose American ways of military organization on allied forces. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/119391008/HTMLSTART

B5N2KATE
09-11-2008, 06:59 AM
Here is a direct quote from Tim Bowden's "One Crowded Hour".....Page 93....
There is no question that reporting the ARVN ( Army of the Republic of South Vietnam) activities was tough and dangerous. Yet, Davis preferred to go with them than to go with other forces. It was their war, after all.
"It meant a great deal to them. They didn't have the sophisticated support that the Americans had, but I still thought their activities were a truer reflection of what was really happening in SVN. After the big American build-up in 1965, almost no foreign correspondents went with the South Vietnamese until after the big Tet Offensive in 1968, when they started to go with the ARVN again because the Americans were disengaging from then on.
I went with the ARVN troops because they did the bulk of the fighting. That was what the war was about. I believed it was necessary to emphasize this, particularly as they were getting almost no coverage from the rest of the international media.
It was much more comfortable to go with the Americans. You quite often had your own helicopter, and fresh food and water provided every day. You weren't guaranteed any of those things with the ARVN. You had to drink water from the rivers using tablets to purify it, and you ate their food, which was rice with maybe some vegetables and a small piece of fish."

Page 122....."....I would most likely be in the field and I would stay with a South Vietnamese unit for at least three days. There was no re-supply in the field like the pizza helicopters for the American troops. They really had pizzas and ice-cream helicoptered out to them - which was wonderful intelligence for the Viet Cong. Apart from the helicopters buzzing around and giving away their position, they could smell the pizzas!
Some American soldiers used to walk with transistor radios playing through earpieces - while they were allegedly on patrol in the jungle looking for the VC. Unfortunately they also carried too much gear, at least 30kgs of equipment, including very heavy flak jackets and armour....."


The U.S. media did not bother, in the main, to cover the ARVN in the same manner as they did their "own" forces, resulting in a lobsided journalistic picture developing, a situation only made worse by the continued and worsening situation on the ground. U.S. soldiers looked for a scapegoat, and found it in the ARVN. More than one account I've read of soldiery in Vietnam condemns the number of "Vietnamese draft dodgers" on the streets of Saigon after dark.
The sentiment seemed to be that ordinary folk in SVN would not fight for their own independence, which adversly affected American morale in all quarters of their effort. This is yet another failure by the media of the day to come to grips with the real picture of the situation in SVN....one that ALL Vietnamese were convinced would only end with the EXIT of U.S. Forces....


More quotes from "One Crowded Hour"....Page 121....
"From his earliest days in Vietnam in 1964, Neil Davis determined to film the Vietnam War from the perspective of the South Vietnamese infantryman. By doing so, he hoped to become familiar with the realities of the war in Vietnam, and although he was often a lone figure, he could give television viewers throughout the world a partial idea of what it was like to be a South Vietnamese soldier.
"I didn't have strong anti-communist feelings although a lot of my friends were on the anti-communist side. I just thought the Vietnamese people needed to work it out for themselves, and it was the responsibility of the foreign correspondants - who are allegedly non-aligned and absolutely neutral - to report fairly and accurately."
The unfair thing was that from the time the Americans came into SVN in force in 1965 until they announced a limited withdrawl in 1968, the impression given to the world was that the Americans were doing most of the fighting, while the inefficient and cowardly ARVN were sitting back and doing nothing.
That was not true, and the international press should accept responsibility for not telling the truth. It was innaccuracy by omission. The figures were available all the time, and clearly show that the South Vietnamese army lost at least 50% more men from 1965 to 1968 than the Americans, and it was constant, week after week.
I used to follow the figures constantly, and only in three weeks in three years did the Americans have more soldiers killled than the South Vietnamese. That is why I was determined to cover the ARVN fighting effort."

Page 123-124....
"In contrast to the Barnum and Bailey Circus, the average VC soldier carried very little equipment. He had his weapon, a sock of rice, and his ammunition. He had no flak jacket, no helmet or big boots, and was dressed in black pyjamas with rubber Ho Chi Minh sandals on his feet, enabling him to move quickly through a countryside he knew intimately."
After three days of slogging across paddies or through the jungle, the Americans were usually exhausted and easy prey for fresh communist troops.
The lightly equipped ARVN soldiers could cover from 8 to 15 miles in one day. The Americans woould be lucky to manage 4 (miles per day).
The VC had no respect for the Americans as soldiers. There were one or two American units - Special Forces, for instance - who were very good, and of course they respected them. But the average American units were treated with contempt because the men had no real jungle craft or sense of survival in the field. They used to call them "Elephants" because they would blunder around the jungle, and the VC could smell Americans literally a mile away - their toothpaste, cigarettes and shaving cream.
But the ARVN troops were also Vietnamese, and many of the soldiers were peasant boys like the VC. Sometimes it was brother against brother.
Actions speak louder than words, and in the Tet offensive of '68, when the NVA and VC launched nationwide attacks and captured many towns and villages, it was the South Vietnamese who did not break, who held on and won back territory.
For the first time, Americans at a high level realised that the ARVN troops could "do it". That was the beginning of the policy of "Vietnamization", but they had left it too late. Before that, they made it clear that they thought the South Vietnamese were the worst soldiers in Vietnam."

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 07:34 AM
Here is a direct quote from Tim Bowden's "One Crowded Hour".....Page 93....

There is no question that reporting the ARVN ( Army of the Republic of South Vietnam) activities was tough and dangerous. Yet, Davis preferred to go with them than to go with other forces. It was their war, after all.
"It meant a great deal to them. They didn't have the sophisticated support that the Americans had, but I still thought their activities were a truer reflection of what was really happening in SVN. After the big American build-up in 1965, almost no foreign correspondents went with the South Vietnamese until after the big Tet Offensive in 1968, when they started to go with the ARVN again because the Americans were disengaging from then on.
I went with the ARVN troops because they did the bulk of the fighting. That was what the war was about. I believed it was necessary to emphasize this, particularly as they were getting almost no coverage from the rest of the international media.
It was much more comfortable to go with the Americans. You quite often had your own helicopter, and fresh food and water provided every day. You weren't guaranteed any of those things with the ARVN. You had to drink water from the rivers using tablets to purify it, and you ate their food, which was rice with maybe some vegetables and a small piece of fish.


The U.S. media did not bother, in the main, to cover the ARVN in the same manner as they did their "own" forces, resulting in a lobsided journalistic picture developed, a situation only made worse by the continued and worsening situation on the ground. U.S. soldiers looked for a scapegoat, and found it in the ARVN. More than one account I've read of soldiery in Vietnam condemns the number of "Vietnamese draft dodgers" on the streets of Saigon after dark.
The sentiment seemed to be that ordinary folk in SVN would not fight for their own independence, which adversly affected American morale in all quarters of their effort. This is yet another failure by the media of the day to come to grips with the real picture of the situation in SVN....one that ALL Vietnamese were convinced would only end with the EXIT of U.S. Forces....

Thanks for that, and your earlier post.

The marvels of Google have thrown up some stuff that I'm pretty sure isn't what I saw a few years ago but it's to the same effect. It referred to and reminded me of Lewis Sorley's work to give the ARVN proper credit which, thanks again to Google, is easier to find than the ARVN (or maybe pro-SVN) website I was looking for, so I'll post quotes from those sources.

To establish Sorley's credentials:


Lewis Sorley served in Vietnam as executive officer of a tank battalion operating in the Central Highlands. A third-generation graduate of the United States Military Academy, he also holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. During two decades of military service he led tank and armored cavalry units in the United States and Germany as well as Vietnam, served in staff assignments in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of the Army Chief of Staff, and was on the faculties at West Point and the Army War College.

He is the author of two biographies, Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times and Honorable Warrior: General Harold K. Johnson and the Ethics of Command, and a history entitled A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam. He has also transcribed and edited Vietnam Chronicles: The Abrams Tapes, 1968-1972. http://members.tripod.com/~nguyentin/arvn-sorley-2.htm

I'll post the full article later that this quote comes from, but the quote goes a long way to demonstrating that the ARVN could and did handle themselves well even in major formation battles, and how that's been forgotten.


Sorley writes movingly about Brigadier General Le Minh Dao, commanding the 18th Infantry Division ARVN, and the valiant resistance he mounted at Xuan Loc. Attacked by first three and then four divisions, the 18th held out for a month, destroying three North Vietnamese divisions before succumbing. The American advisor, Colonel Ray Battreall, said of this action :

That magnificent last stand deserves to live on in military history, if we can overcome the bias,
even in our own ranks, that ARVN was never capable of doing anything right.

But, of course, we've long forgotten this valiant stand, as we've forgotten so much else about the War, a War that officially ended with the South's surrender at 10:25 on April 30, 1975. http://brothersjudd.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/reviews.detail/book_id/829

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 07:37 AM
Reassessing the ARVN

Americans know very little about the Vietnam War, even though it ended just over a quarter century ago. That is in part because those who opposed the war have seen it as in their interests to portray every aspect of the long struggle in the worst possible light, and indeed in some cases to falsify what they have had to say about it. This extends from wholesale defamation of the South Vietnamese and their conduct throughout a long and difficult struggle, to Jane Fonda's infamous claim that repatriated American prisoners of war who reported systematic abuse and torture by their captors were "liars" and "hypocrites."

I would like to speak to selected aspects of the war primarily having to do with the South Vietnamese, beginning with some of the many contrasts between the earlier and later years of major American involvement in the Vietnam War. In shorthand terms, the earlier years began with the introduction of American ground forces in 1965 and continued through a change of command not long after Tet 1968. The later period stretched from then through withdrawal of the last American forces in March 1973.

During the earlier years, with General William C. Westmoreland in command, the American approach was basically to take over the war from the South Vietnamese and try to win it militarily by conducting a war of attrition. The theory was that killing as many of the enemy as possible would eventually cause him to lose heart and cease aggression against the South. This earlier period was also characterized by recurring requests for more American troops to be dispatched to Vietnam, resulting in a peak commitment there of some 543,400.

In prosecuting this kind of war, General Westmoreland relied on search-and-destroy tactics carried out by large-scale forces, primarily in the deep jungles. Those tactics succeeded in their own terms--over the course of several years the enemy did suffer large numbers of casualties, horrifying numbers, really--but the expected result was not achieved. Meanwhile, given his single-minded devotion to a self-selected war of attrition, Westmoreland pretty much ignored two other key aspects of the war--pacification, and improvement of South Vietnam's armed forces.

Following the enemy's offensive at the time of Tet 1968, General Creighton W. Abrams replaced Westmoreland and brought to bear a much different outlook on the nature of the war and how it should be prosecuted. Abrams stressed "one war" of combat operations, pacification, and upgrading South Vietnam's armed forces, giving those latter two long-neglected tasks equal importance and priority with military operations.

Operations themselves also underwent a dramatic change. In place of "search and destroy" there was now "clear and hold," meaning that when Communist forces had been driven from populated areas, those areas were then permanently garrisoned by allied forces, not abandoned to be reoccupied by the enemy at some later date. Greatly expanded South Vietnamese Territorial Forces took on that security mission. Major General Nguyen Duy Hinh said that "expansion and upgrading of the Regional and Popular Forces" was "by far the most important and outstanding among U.S. contributions" to the war effort. Lieutenant General Ngo Quang Truong viewed these forces as "the mainstay of the war machinery," noting that "such achievements as hamlets pacified, the number of people living under GVN [Government of Vietnam] control or the trafficability on key lines of communication were possible largely due to the unsung feats of the RF [Regional Forces] and PF [Popular Forces]."

The nature of operations also changed in the later years. Large-scale forays deep into the jungle were replaced by thousands of small-unit ambushes and patrols, conducted both day and night, and sited so as to screen the population from enemy forces. Pacification was emphasized, and particularly rooting out the covert enemy infrastructure that had through coercion and terror dominated the populace of South Vietnam's villages and hamlets.

Body count was no longer the measure of merit. "I don't think it makes any difference how many losses he [the enemy] takes," Abrams told his commanders in a total repudiation of the earlier approach. In fact, said Abrams, "In the whole picture of the war, the battles don't really mean much." Population secured was now the key indicator of success.

Contrary to what many people seem to believe, the new approach succeeded remarkably. And, since during these later years American forces were progressively being withdrawn, more and more it was the South Vietnamese who were achieving that success.

.....

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 07:41 AM
During the period of buildup of U.S. forces in Vietnam, many observers--including some Americans stationed in Vietnam--were critical of South Vietnamese armed forces. But such criticisms seldom took into account a number of contributing factors. American materiel assistance in those early years consisted largely of cast-off World War II–vintage weapons, including the heavy and unwieldy (for a Vietnamese) M-1 rifle. The enemy, meanwhile, was being provided with increasingly up-to-date weaponry by his Russian and Chinese patrons. "In 1964 the enemy had introduced the AK-47, a modern, highly effective automatic rifle," noted Brig. Gen. James L. Collins, Jr., in a monograph on development of South Vietnam's armed forces. "In contrast, the South Vietnam forces were still armed with a variety of World War II weapons....After 1965 the increasing U.S. buildup slowly pushed Vietnamese armed forces materiel needs into the background." General Fred Weyand, finishing up a tour as commanding general of II Field Force, Vietnam, observed in a 1968 debriefing report that "the long delay in furnishing ARVN modern weapons and equipment, at least on a par with that furnished the enemy by Russia and China, has been a major contributing factor to ARVN ineffectiveness."

It was not until General Abrams came to Vietnam as deputy commander of U.S. forces in May 1967 that the South Vietnamese began to get more attention. Soon after taking up his post, Abrams cabled Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson. "It is quite clear to me," he reported, "that the U.S. Army military here and at home have thought largely in terms of U.S. operations and support of U.S. forces." As a consequence, "Shortages of essential equipment or supplies in an already austere authorization have not been handled with the urgency and vigor that characterizes what we do for U.S. needs. Yet the responsibility we bear to ARVN is clear....the groundwork must begin here. I am working at it."

By early 1968 some M-16 rifles were in the hands of South Vietnamese airborne and other elite units, but the rank and file were still outgunned by the enemy. Thus Lt. Gen. Dong Van Khuyen, South Vietnam's senior logistician, recalled that "during the enemy Tet Offensive of 1968 the crisp, rattling sounds of AK-47s echoing in Saigon and some other cities seemed to make a mockery of the weaker, single shots of Garands and carbines fired by stupefied friendly troops."

Even so, South Vietnamese armed forces performed admirably in repelling the Tet Offensive. "To the surprise of many Americans and the consternation of the Communists," reported Time magazine, "ARVN bore the brunt of the early fighting with bravery and élan, performing better than almost anyone would have expected."

In February 1968, retired U.S. Army General Bruce C. Clarke made a trip to Vietnam, afterward writing a trip report that eventually made its way to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Clarke observed that "the Vietnamese units are still on a very austere priority for equipment, to include weapons." That adversely affected both their morale and effectiveness, he noted. "Troops know and feel it when they are poorly equipped."

After reading the report, LBJ called Clarke to the White House to discuss his findings. Then, recalled Clarke, "within a few days of our visit to the White House a presidential aide called me to say the President had released 100,000 M-16 rifles to ARVN." President Johnson referred to this matter in his dramatic speech of March 31, 1968. "We shall," he vowed, "accelerate the re-equipment of South Vietnam's armed forces in order to meet the enemy's increased firepower."

U.S. divisions were not only better armed but also larger than South Vietnam's, resulting in greater combat capability. To the further disadvantage of the South Vietnamese, during these early years the U.S. hogged most of the combat assets that increased unit effectiveness. That included allocation of Boeing B-52 bombing strikes. Abrams noted that during the period of the North Vietnamese "Third Offensive" in August and September 1968, "The ARVN killed more enemy than all other allied forces combined." In the process, he said, they also "suffered more KIA, both actual and on the basis of the ratio of enemy to friendly killed in action." This was a function, he told General Earle Wheeler, of the fact that "the South Vietnamese get relatively less support, both quantitatively and qualitatively, than U.S. forces; i.e., artillery, tactical air support, gunships and helilift."

Under these conditions of the earlier years, criticism of South Vietnamese units was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Given little to work with, outgunned by the enemy and relegated to what were then viewed as secondary roles, South Vietnam's armed forces missed out for several years on the development and combat experience that would have greatly increased their capabilities.

In the later years of American involvement, during which U.S. ground forces were progressively being withdrawn, priority for issue of M-16 rifles was given to the long-neglected South Vietnamese Territorial Forces, who provided the "hold" in clear and hold. As those forces established control over more and more territory, large numbers of VC "rallied" to the allied side. This reached a peak of 47,000 in 1969, with another 32,000 crossing over in 1970. Given the authorized 8,689-soldier strength of a North Vietnamese Army division, that amounted to enemy losses by defection equivalent to about nine divisions in those two years alone.

There came a point at which the war was as good as won. The fighting wasn't over, but the war was won. The reason it was won was that the South Vietnamese had achieved the capacity, with promised American support, to maintain their independence and freedom of action. This was a South Vietnamese achievement.

For one thing, captives who had knowledge of the enemy infrastructure and its functioning were invaluable intelligence assets. That provided considerable incentive to capture them alive and exploit that knowledge. Congressional investigators sent out to Vietnam to assess the program found that of some 15,000 members of the Viet Cong infrastructure neutralized during 1968, 15 percent had been killed, 13 percent rallied to the government side and 72 percent were captured. William Colby, who then coordinated the Phoenix Program and in 1973 was appointed director of the CIA, testified later that "the vast majority" of the enemy dead had been killed in regular combat actions, "as shown by the units reporting who had killed them."

During those years the South Vietnamese, besides taking over combat responsibilities from the departing Americans, had to deal with multiple changes in policy. General Abrams was clear on how the South Vietnamese were being asked to vault higher and higher hurdles. "We started out in 1968," he recalled. "We were going to get these people by 1974 where they could whip hell out of the VC--the VC. Then they changed the goal to lick the VC and the NVA--in South Vietnam. Then they compressed it. They've compressed it about three times, or four times--acceleration. So what we started out with to be over this kind of time"--indicating with his hands a long time--"is now going to be over this kind of time"--much shorter. "And if it's VC, NVA, interdiction, helping Cambodians and so on--that's what we're working with. And," Abrams cautioned, "you have to be careful on a thing like this, or you'll get the impression you're being screwed. You mustn't do that, 'cause it'll get you mad." Among the most crucial of the policy changes was dropping longstanding plans for a U.S. residual force to remain in South Vietnam indefinitely, in a solution comparable to that adopted in Western Europe and South Korea.

In January 1972, John Paul Vann, a senior official in pacification support, told friends: "We are now at the lowest level of fighting the war has ever seen. Today there is an air of prosperity throughout the rural areas of Vietnam, and it cannot be denied. Today the roads are open and the bridges are up, and you run much greater risk traveling any road in Vietnam today from the scurrying, bustling, hustling Hondas and Lambrettas than you do from the VC." And, added Vann, "This program of Vietnamization has gone kind of literally beyond my wildest dreams of success." Those were South Vietnamese accomplishments.

.....

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 07:41 AM
.....
When in late March of 1972 the NVA mounted a conventional invasion of South Vietnam by the equivalent of 20 divisions, a bloody pitched battle ensued. The enemy's "well-planned campaign" was defeated, wrote Douglas Pike, "because air power prevented massing of forces and because of stubborn, even heroic, South Vietnamese defense. Terrible punishment was visited on PAVN [NVA] troops and on the PAVN transportation and communication matrix." But, most important of all, said Pike, "ARVN troops and even local forces stood and fought as never before."

Later critics said that South Vietnam had thrown back the invaders only because of American air support. Abrams responded vigorously to that. "I doubt the fabric of this thing could have been held together without U.S. air," he told his commanders, "but the thing that had to happen before that is the Vietnamese, some numbers of them, had to stand and fight. If they didn't do that, ten times the air we've got wouldn't have stopped them."

The critics also disparaged South Vietnam's armed forces because they had needed American assistance in order to prevail. But at the same time, some 300,000 American troops were stationed in West Germany precisely because NATO could not stave off Soviet or Warsaw Pact aggression without American help. And in South Korea there were 50,000 American troops positioned specifically to help that country deal with any aggression from the North.

South Vietnam did, with courage and blood, defeat the enemy's 1972 Easter Offensive. General Abrams had told President Nguyen Van Thieu that it would be "the effectiveness of his field commanders that would determine the outcome," and they proved equal to the challenge. South Vietnam's defenders inflicted such casualties on the invaders that it was three years before North Vietnam could mount another major offensive. By then, dramatic changes would have taken place in the larger context.

After the Paris Accords were signed in January 1973, to induce the South Vietnamese to agree to terms they viewed as fatally flawed (the North Vietnamese were allowed to retain large forces in the South), President Richard M. Nixon told Thieu that if North Vietnam violated the terms of the agreement and resumed its aggression against the South, the United States would intervene militarily to punish them. Moreover, Nixon said that if renewed fighting broke out, the United States would replace on a one-for-one basis any major combat systems (tanks, artillery pieces and so on) lost by the South Vietnamese, as was permitted by the Paris Accords. And finally, said Nixon, the United States would continue robust financial support for South Vietnam. As events actually unfolded, of course, the United States defaulted on all three of those promises.

Meanwhile, North Vietnam was receiving unprecedented levels of support from its patrons. According to a 1994 history published in Hanoi, from January to September 1973, the nine months following the Paris Accords, the quantity of supplies shipped from North Vietnam to its forces in the South was four times that shipped in the entire previous year. But even that was minuscule compared to what was sent south from the beginning of 1974 until the end of the war in April 1975. The total during those 16 months, reported the Communists, was 2.6 times the amount delivered to the various battlefields during the preceding 13 years.

If the South Vietnamese had shunned the Paris agreement, it was certain not only that the United States would have settled without them, but also that the U.S. Congress would then have moved swiftly to cut off further aid to South Vietnam. If, on the other hand, the South Vietnamese went along, hoping thereby to continue receiving American aid, they would be forced to accept an outcome in which North Vietnamese troops remained menacingly within their borders. With mortal foreboding, the South Vietnamese chose the latter course, only to find--dismayingly--that they soon had the worst of both: NVA forces were ensconced in the South, and American support was cut off.

Many Americans would not like to hear that the totalitarian states of China and the Soviet Union had proven to be better and more faithful allies than the democratic United States, but that was in fact the case. William Tuohy, who covered the war for many years for The Washington Post, wrote that "it is almost unthinkable and surely unforgivable that a great nation should leave these helpless allies to the tender mercies of the North Vietnamese." But that is what we did.

Colonel William LeGro served until war's end with the U.S. Defense Attache Office in Saigon. From that close-up vantage point he saw precisely what had happened. "The reduction to almost zero of United States support was the cause" of the final collapse, he observed. "We did a terrible thing to the South Vietnamese."

Near the end, Tom Polgar, then serving as the CIA's chief of station, Saigon, cabled a succinct assessment of the situation: "Ultimate outcome hardly in doubt, because South Vietnam cannot survive without U.S. military aid as long as North Vietnam's war-making capacity is unimpaired and supported by Soviet Union and China."

The aftermath of the war in Vietnam was as grim as had been feared. Seth Mydans wrote perceptively and compassionately on Southeast Asian affairs for The New York Times in 2000: "More than a million southerners fled the country after the war ended. Some 400,000 were interned in camps for 're-education'--many only briefly, but some for as long as seventeen years. Another 1.5 million were forcibly resettled in ‘new economic zones' in barren areas of southern Vietnam that were ravaged by hunger and extreme poverty."

Former Viet Cong Colonel Pham Xuan An described in 1990 his immense disillusionment with what a Communist victory had meant to Vietnam. "All that talk about liberation' twenty, thirty, forty years ago," he lamented, "produced this, this impoverished, broken-down country led by a gang of cruel and paternalistic half-educated theorists." Former North Vietnamese Army Colonel Bui Tin has been equally candid about the outcome of the war, even for the victors. "It is too late for my generation," he said, "the generation of war, of victory, and betrayal. We won. We also lost."

The price paid by the South Vietnamese in their long struggle to remain free proved grievous indeed. The armed forces lost 275,000 killed in action. Another 465,000 civilians lost their lives, many of them assassinated by VC terrorists or felled by the enemy's shelling and rocketing of cities, and 935,000 more were wounded.

Of the million who became "boat people," an unknown number lost their lives at sea between 1975 and 1979--possibly more than 100,000, according to Australian Minister for Immigration Michael MacKellar. In Vietnam perhaps 65,000 others were executed by their self-proclaimed liberators. As many as 250,000 more perished in the brutal "re-education" camps. Meanwhile, 2 million, driven from their homeland, formed a new Vietnamese diaspora.

Many of those displaced Vietnamese now live in the United States. Recently, Mydans visited the "Little Saigon" community around Westminster, Calif., site of some 3,000 businesses, and then described the bustling, prosperous scene. It was, he suggested, "what Saigon might have looked like if America had won the war in 1975." And, Mydans concluded, "There is nobody more energetic than a Vietnamese immigrant."

Campaigning in Westminster during his run for the presidency, Senator John McCain said to a large crowd of Vietnamese, "I thank you for what you have done for America." Nor have Vietnamese expatriates in the United States forgotten their kinsmen still living in Vietnam. Every year they send back an estimated $2 billion.

None of this has been easy for those who came to America. Nguyen Qui Duc wrote in 2000 in the Boston Globe that, for expatriate Vietnamese, "Painful memories of the war will always remain in our hearts." But, he added, "The cultural differences and homesickness they endure seem a fair price to be free."

In conclusion, the war in Vietnam was a just war fought by the South Vietnamese and their allies for an admirable purpose. Those who fought it did so with their mightiest hearts, and in the process they came very close to succeeding in their purpose of enabling South Vietnam to sustain itself as a free and independent nation. A reporter once remarked that General Abrams was a man who deserved a better war. I quoted that observation to his eldest son, who immediately responded: "He didn't see it that way. He thought the Vietnamese were worth it."

Lewis Sorley
Reassessing ARVN
Vietnam Magazine, April 2003

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 07:43 AM
A more detailed and wider consideration. http://members.tripod.com/~nguyentin/arvn-sorley-2.htm

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 07:47 AM
Review of Sorley's book 'A Better War'.


There is no greater analytical tool than Occam's Razor, but if I had to pick one worthwhile rival, it is to approach every problem in politics and history with the following mindset : the conventional wisdom is always wrong. This is, of course, far too sweeping a generalization, but it is shocking how often it turns out to be true, and even when it isn't, it is always helpful to approach a seemingly settled problem skeptically. Just in the past few years there have been several really good history texts which have taken this approach--Hitler's Willing Executioners, The First World War, The Pity of War--and though they've produced predictable howls of outrage, the very controversy they've stirred up has forced those who defend the conventional wisdom to do so with far greater rigor, and that's all to the good. Lewis Sorley's A Better War challenges the accepted view of Vietnam, does so with great authority, and will hopefully thereby foster a significant re-examination of this sorest spot in the national psyche.

The basic premise of the book is that late in 1970 or early in 1971 the United States had essentially won the Vietnam War. That is to say, we had defeated the Viet Cong in the field, returned effective control of most of the population to the South Vietnamese and created a situation where the South Vietnamese armed forces could continue the war on their own, so long as we provided them with adequate supplies and intelligence, and carried through on our promise to bomb the North if they violated peace agreements. This situation had been brought about by the changes in strategy and tactics which were implemented by Army General Creighton Abrams when he replaced William Westmoreland in 1968, after the military triumph but public relations disaster of the Tet Offensive. Where Westmoreland had treated the War as simply a military exercise, Abrams understood its political dimensions. Abrams, who had worked on developing a new war plan at the Pentagon, ended Westmoreland's emphasis on body counts and destroying the enemy and switched the focus to regaining control of villages. He understood that eventual victory required civilian support for the South Vietnamese government and this support required the government to provide villagers with physical security from the Viet Cong.

Abrams was accompanied in implementing this new approach by Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and by William Colby, the new CIA chief in Saigon, who provided greatly improved intelligence reports and oversaw the pacification program. Together they managed to salvage the wreckage that Westmoreland had left behind and they retrieved the situation even as Washington was drawing down troop levels. In 1972, with the Viet Cong essentially eliminated as an effective fighting force, the North Vietnamese mounted a massive Easter offensive, but this too was decisively defeated.

Having failed to achieve their aims militarily, the North Vietnamese turned their attention to the Paris Peace Talks. They were extraordinarily fortunate to be dealing with Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, two opportunists of the worst sort, who were willing to negotiate a deal which left the North with troops in South Vietnam. When President Thieu balked at this and threatened to scuttle the talks, the North backed off of the whole deal and Nixon ordered the 1972 Christmas bombings of Hanoi. For eleven days, waves of B-52's, each carrying 108 500-pound and 750-pound bombs, pummeled the North. For perhaps the only time during the entire War, the North was subjected to total war, and they were forced to return to the negotiating table. Sorley cites Sir Robert Thompson's assessment that :

In my view, on December 30, 1972, after eleven days of those B-52 attacks on the Hanoi area,
you had won the war. It was over.

At that point, the Viet Cong had been destroyed, we had definitely won the insurgency phase of the War. Additionally, the North had been defeated in the initial phase of conventional warfare, and had finally had the War brought home to them in a significant way. Though the overall War was certainly not over, it was sitting there, just waiting to be won.

So what happened ? Sorley has identified several problem areas that led to the eventual demise of the South. First was the really disgraceful way in which the U. S. bugged out. Having gotten the North back to the bargaining table, Nixon and Kissinger cut a deal--the January 27, 1973 Paris Peace Accord--which allowed the North to keep its forces in South Vietnam. At the time they were some 160,000 in number (as compared to the 27,000 that we were down to by then). Then, despite innumerable assurances, Nixon refused to resume bombing in order to enforce the accords. This enabled the North to use the cover of a cease fire to move more men and materiel into the South. Meanwhile, Congress, with bills like the Fulbright-Aiken Amendment, and extensive cuts to the military budget, pulled the logistical rug out from under the South. At the very time that the North was stockpiling arms, supplied by China and Russia, the South was having its supply of arms seriously curtailed. It was South Vietnam's bad luck, at its hour of greatest peril, to be saddled with a feckless ally. Imagine having to depend on the U.S. for the logistical support which is your life's blood at a time when it was being run by Nixon and Kissinger at the executive level and by folks like Ted Kennedy in the congressional realm. Sorley, properly, lays much of the blame at the doorstep of the American political leadership.

A second problem, one for which the military itself must bear more blame than Sorley acknowledges, is that the American press, and through them the public, had lost faith in the War. It had dragged on much longer than American attention spans could tolerate. Political and military leaders had repeatedly misled the public about the prospects of winning the War. The Peace Movement had shaken domestic support for continuance of the effort. Events like the My Lai massacre and systemic problems like drug use, many of them exacerbated by the politically mandated transition to an all volunteer armed service, had undermined the morale of the troops and of the broader public. Like the boy who cried wolf, when the news they carried was finally true, that victory in the War was finally within our grasp, the military could not find anyone to believe them.

Third was the failure to ever stop the North from using the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos as supply lines and sanctuaries, and the related failure to carry the ground War into North Vietnam itself. By effectively agreeing to make South Vietnam the battlefield, the U. S. ensured that the War was always being fought, at least to some degree, on North Vietnam's terms. The modern equivalent would be something akin to issuing rules of engagement, known to everyone, for the Gulf war, which only allowed U. S. troops to fight the Iraqis in Kuwait, never to follow them into Iraq itself, never envisioning an ultimate assault on Iraq itself. Luckily, this seems to have been one of the lessons that the military learned in Vietnam. Never again can U. S. forces be sent into combat with rules so favorable to the enemy.

Finally, and most importantly to South Vietnam itself, even after all the years and dollars, the U. S. had not succeeded in creating a viable South Vietnamese officer corps to take over command of the situation as we pulled out. There were many dedicated and courageous men, even a few good commanders, as Sorley shows during the fighting in the final North Vietnamese offensive in 1975, but not enough. Moreover, the military, indeed the entire society, was so riddled with corruption that the citizenry generally distrusted them. This, combined with the demoralizing effect of watching us turn tail, left the South poorly prepared psychologically to continue the War.

And so, when the final push came, all of these factors came together and created the environment in which the resistance of the South utterly collapsed. Sorley writes movingly about Brigadier General Le Minh Dao, commanding the 18th Infantry Division ARVN, and the valiant resistance he mounted at Xuan Loc. Attacked by first three and then four divisions, the 18th held out for a month, destroying three North Vietnamese divisions before succumbing. The American advisor, Colonel Ray Battreall, said of this action :

That magnificent last stand deserves to live on in military history, if we can overcome the bias,
even in our own ranks, that ARVN was never capable of doing anything right.

But, of course, we've long forgotten this valiant stand, as we've forgotten so much else about the War, a War that officially ended with the South's surrender at 10:25 on April 30, 1975.

One book can not change peoples' minds about a matter as contentious as the Vietnam War. In fact, the intellectual classes and the Baby Boom Generation have so much of themselves invested in the idea that the War was wrong and unwinnable that it's unlikely that any number of books could change their minds. But as the years go by and as new generations take a fresh look at the War, it is important that they approach it with an open mind. They, and we, may still conclude that we should never have been there or that there was never a chance that we could win, but those conclusions should be arrived at after examining all the evidence and considering the different possibilities. No one undertaking this task should fail to read A Better War; it is historical revision of the very best kind, thoughtful and thought provoking. http://brothersjudd.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/reviews.detail/book_id/829

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 08:41 AM
This is from a site similar to the one I'm looking for (possibly the same one if it's completely changed its artwork - there was a big SVN flag on the masthead of the one I remember).

From an American officer who did several tours in Vietnam.


There remains much, much more to Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand than is suspected by the American public, and conclusions presenting themselves do not conform to what most people think they know.

Yes, there were serious problems with corruption. Yes, there were examples of inept leadership. Still, no one told me, or even suggested, that my initial exposure to the ARVN 9th Infantry Division would reveal the professional and highly competent performance witnessed at a division FDC (Fire Direction Center for allocation of supporting artillery fire). Nor had anyone told me that the 7th ARVN Infantry Division, forever condemned by its lackluster performance at Ap Bac, years earlier, had evolved into a highly effective unit under the leadership of General Nguyen Khoa Nam, a man of impeccable integrity and tactical skills who remains unknown to the American public, while being justly revered by the Viet Namese people. Nor did any suggest it would even be possible for Hau Nghia Province's RF forces, the provincial militia, to thoroughly humiliate not one but three NVA regular regiments during Hanoi's 1972 Offensive, systematically chewing up and spitting out attacking enemy forces that could have feasibly changed the course of history during this period.1 The RF did not have the artillery and air support available to regular ARVN (to include Airborne and Rangers) and Marine units, and relied heavily on basic hard-ball infantry skills. Had the NVA broken through they would have posed an immediate and direct threat to Saigon, a mere 25 miles away, forcing ARVN 21st Division forces to pull back from QL 13, and thereby allow NVA forces to direct all their attention to An Loc. As has been noted by James H.

3 Willbanks(2) in his excellent work, the 21st division, while not succeeding in breaking through to besieged An Loc, did force the NVA to divert a division away from An Loc, which conceivably might otherwise have fallen, with dire consequences.

In sum, RVNAF in its entirety, and often mistakenly referred to as simply "ARVN,"was capable of far more than I had learned before going to Viet Nam, and far more than was conveyed to the American people. Then...and now. Going back to the period discussed in this presentation, it is acknowledged that RVNAF had serious problems. This is obvious. Were this not so, U.S., Australian, South Korean, Thai and New Zealand combat units would not have been required. Still, there were indications of what well-led, properly armed and equipped RVNAF forces were capable of. In 1966 the 37th ARVN Ranger battalion decimated an NVA regiment three times its size at Thach Tru, receiving a Presidential Unit Citation from Lyndon Johnson for its feat. An American advisor to the 37th, Capt. Bobby Jackson, described his counterpart, company commander Capt. Nguyen Van Chinh, as being "utterly fearless."3 The 2nd Marine, or Thuy Quan Luc Chien, Battalion, whose shoulder patch depicted a "Trau Dien,"a "Crazy Buffalo,"had likewise bullied VC and NVA units, demonstrating the appropriateness of their unit symbol (all the more meaningful for those who've encountered an enraged water buffalo). Their accomplishments were unreported in the US news media and are ignored in later day "histories." http://vnafmamn.com/ARVN_68-75.html

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 08:47 AM
From the same site, showing the plight of the ARVN grunt, which was far worse than anything experienced by US and its allies' grunts at the base level of pay and conditions, and shows why the SVN government lost the loyalty of ARVN soldiers.


By Private 1st Class Bui Manh Cuong ARVN - SN. 72/156.606

By reading a lot of Vietnam war books, most of them written by 3 sides: US, Republic of Vietnam and Democratic People Republic of Vietnam, I just want to share with you some of my point of view about our ARVN combativity in that war. Argument about Vietnam war is a multi-facade subject without end but here are some:

1/. Soldier's life: Few book written about the ARVN's life, in the 2nd Indochina war from 1954-1963, a pay for a soldier was about $40,00 USD/month, this pay reduced to $19,00 USD/month at the end of 1975 due to the inflation of the Vietnam Economy. This problem had effected to the moral of ARVN, soldier could not handle the rifle when his wife, his children haven't had nothing to eat... and housing problem for his family, few of the ARVN leaders had made an effort to build and securize the soldier's accomodations, the last battles in 1975 shown this problem: many soldiers deserted the combat unit to save their family, and belong to that time: medecine, fuel and material stolen to sell on the black market for buying food. The punishment for the lack of discipline by some leaders, I'd ever seen a Battalion's commander had hit a soldier with a club as he beat a dog! "You can not defend to the death, when every week you hear from your family that they don't have enough food to eat. And you look to Saigon, the rich had food, liquor, they have money, they relax, have a good time. Why fight to the death? For whom?" as an ARVN Marine said to the Rand Corporation's survey for the US Deparment of Defense.

A long war over 20 years had been unbearable to the soldier's life, they weared-out spirit, endless inquietude for the future of their children: born to die! No politic warfare to apply on their moral, no material supply to help their poor condition of life... Fighting to defense the country was a noble cause but be trivialized by low income: no food, no clothes, no house... Die for the nation was a "job" likes others: their sacrifice had never equitably compensated; a flag, a coffin, some medals... and forgotten quickly when the rich and high-ranking men in the country had sent their boys overseas to avoid their call on duty, having a safety life. The noble cause was stolen when the first US Marines unit landed on China Beach 1965 (Da nang), the presence of the foreigner on the country wiped out this noble cause. And US government quickly turned a "civil" war between North and South Vietnam to an "invade" war between USA and Vietnam.

2/. S.Vietnam Economy: from the 4th exportation of rice's country in 1959, S.Vietnam became the importation of rice's country from Thailand in the beginning of US involvement in 1965. The most importance in fighting against the N.Vietnam Communist was rising not only the army strength but also our productivity and economic capacity - I remembered a lot of visits that my dad had brought us to see in the early sixties: The Ha-Tien Cement Factory, the Hiep-Hoa Sugar factory, the Cogido Paper Manufacturer, The electric power plan Da-Nhim, etc. the most impressive visit for me that the Carbine M1/M2 and Garant M1 ammunition manufacturing's experience in the ARVN Engineer Dept. at Go-Vap but then abandoned after the Diem's coup in 1963. From 1965, S.Vietnam became a Consummer Country, most of the product for that time imported from USA, France, Italy, Germany, Japan... the only automobile had made in Vietnam with french parts was the Citroen "La Dalat", a light, easy to repair car based on the french Citroen Mehari.


I also remember the war effort at that time, we could manufacture the dehydrated rice, canned food, combat fatigue and equipment for the army. From a light industrial country, S.Vietnam became a consummer country without ressource, all imported product was paid with dollar of the US assistant program. Moreover, the presence of US soldier with their money, 20 time or more compared to a vietnamese middle-class pay, this problem turned up side down the vietnamese life - a working teacher at day became a Honda-taxi at night to drive the bar girls to the night clubs... The N.Vietnam did some military loans to China and Russia, they must refund these loans after the end of Vietnam war - Why President Thieu sent Nguyen Tien Hung to begging for the US Military Supplies in 1975? Did they have the financial plan, after Paris Accord, to support the war and after-war or just only counted on parole of President Nixon?

3/. S.Vietnam Leadership: Few of valuable leaders in the ARVN. In effect, from Ngo Dinh Diem's assassination in 1963 because he committed a big mistake: he had said NO to US Goverment, US Policy needs all "Yes-men" to do the job in Vietnam, if you say NO meaning that you are uncooperative or as you said for these Yes-men as "kiss-*** attitude." Why don't say YES to please to the Boss? You don't need to worry about economy problem in the country: you could not plan the rice? No problem, we can buy rice from Thailand. - You don't need to manufacture the rifle and ammunition, we can buy them from Colt & Remington factories, etc. Building a government based on US Economic & Military Aid, S.Vietnam leaders did not care to swallow any anti-headache pill and doing the war on the American way till the best ally "cut and run". The Vietnamese second republic high-ranking leaders were military men, most of them were educated from the french school with the feudal society, they were not taught to build a healthy country in economy. I remember the 12 warlords time between 1964-1966, the clowning of General Nguyen Khanh with his Vung-Tau Charter - the dispute between high-ranking generals for leader at that time and forgot entirely to fight against N.Vietnam Communist and modernize the army. The result of the warlords period conducted Nguyen van Thieu to use the high-ranking military leaders based on royalty, fidelity but not on military knowledge and fighting capacity; moreover, Thieu did not respect the military chain of command, he interfered in the military operation as he was a commander of the 5th ARVN Division, the debacle of the Lam Son 719 (I lost a friend in the Artillery of VN Marines unit) following the final battles of Ban Me Thuot, Pleiku & Kontum; the abandoning of the I Military Corp (as the Normandy Landing in 1944, General Von Rundstedt, Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Defense has had waiting for Hitler's wake-up to request for using 2 SS Panzer Divisions to push the Allied off the shore... Too late!). Thieu usually left General Cao Van Vien behind by giving commandment directly to the MR Commanders without consulting the JCS, showing the lack of command in the Easter Offensive at Quang Tri with General Hoang Xuan Lam in 1972. Was General Vien just a decorative object or just showing that Thieu didn't trust to anybody?

......

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 08:48 AM
The case of General Do Mau: his education level was on Primary School but he kept in the last end career as Vice-Minister of Education, he was subordinated by President Diem and worked as Military Security Director with the rank Colonel but he turned back to against Diem cause of the General promotion's list, when Ngo Dinh Nhu said: "Don't promote the warder Mau to general, North Vietnam Communist will laugh at us! Colonel was his top level." - To wash his hands off from Diem's blood, many years after in USA, he (wrote?) a book with his callsign in Can-Lao Party "Hoanh Linh" saying that Diem policy was buddhist repression (Viet Nam Mau Lua Que Huong Toi) then sent a request as a vietnamese buddhist to Pope John-Paulus II to cancel the Pope's visit to Vietnam and more spectacular at the end of his life, he came back to Vietnam, shaking hand the communist! Betrayed Diem, committed in the death of Captain Do Tho, his nephew; tried to retablish the Buddhism in Vietnam as National religion as the Ly & Le Dynasties? (Roman catholic, muslim, protestant or buddhism are all imported religion) What kind of man he was? A good S.Vietnam leader, wasn't he?

4/. ARVN Training: the training program for ARVN was quite good in general from the new Quan Doi Quoc-Gia Viet-Nam etablished in 1950 under Emperor Bao-Dai, reformed in 1956 under the 1st Republic of Vietnam, there was more 20 Military training centers and Military Academies : Military Academy of Dalat, Military Academy of Thu-Duc, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy of Nha Trang then the Polwar Academy of Dalat to respond to the Officer need in the Army. In the first day of the young ARVN, training was based on the french training program, platoon to company commander for the officers and with additive training programs, they could be able to command a Batallion or a Regiment but few of them could handle a full division without talking to use his unit in a tactical operation or to combine his unit to the other units for a strategy campaign - the need was accomplished by the opening of the Command & General Staff College.

Beyond of some counterinsurgency programs for ARVN Officers in the early sixties in Malaysia and Philippines, unfortunately, the US Military training program and US advice did not take effect to the ARVN training for an anti-guerilla war but based on the conventional war in WW2 or in Korea, almost US Military advisers did not have experience in the guerilla war. This training way was good then in the Vietnamization but too late to apply in a combined battle when you don't have no more ammunition for howitzers, no more fuel for aircraft, no more battery for the PRC-25 radio... Unwilling to fight, cowardice, unfitting... that were things that our best ally sticked on the head of the ARVN. These judgments may be right in some case but wrong in general, remember how many US unit disobeyed to fight in the WW2 and in Korea? For me, the worse thing that was happened with COL. JOHN PAUL VANN (click here to learn more about John Paul Vann), he interferred directly in the Ap Bac Hamlet Battle 1963 with the 7th Infantry Division, to cover his mistake by dropping some H-21 "Banana flying" helicopters in the VC zone, to save some US pilots, he compelled the VN M-113 Armor carrier captain to head straight his unit for rescuing the helos crew, but more 6 gunners in the Armor carriers were KIA cause of they didn't have any steel plate to protect them in action (since that battle, all M-113 was equiped the protection for gunner but no one said thanks to these KIA gunners), then to defense his mistake after mistake, just shouting that ARVN didn't fought as the way it would be (american cow boys?) to the American News reporters. Did he remember the adviser role in Vietnam that time was only giving his advice? not interferring in the battle! the Captain of the VN M-113s was then General Ly Tong Ba and he met again John Paul Vann in the MR 2 in the Easter Offensive 1972. To have a well trained officer, 4 years in the Military Academies of Dalat, 1 year at Academy Thu-Duc - ARVN would have many problems to resolve in the Vietnamization program, understanding that ARVN must set up 2 or 3 time more officers to fulfill the need of leadership.



5/. ARVN Equipment: From 1954 to 1968, ARVN had used WW2 vintage weapons: unfitting to the little asian body type, excepted the light Carbine M1/M2 rifle. But with these WW2 weapons that the ARVN had used well in combat alone from 1954 to 1963 without US ground troop, eventually very good in the Tet Offensive 1968 although the VC had used the automatic rifle AK-47 since 1964.

M-2 & M-3 Armored vehicles and M-24 Chaffee tanks were used in the early days, replaced in 1963 by M-114 (unfitting on the field, abandoned after the test) and M-113 carriers then M-41 Walker Bulldog, and M-48A3 Patton after Lam Son 719 Operation in the Vietnamization program but without recovering vehicles.

S.VN Navy had been equiped mostly with WW2 ships, VNAF with the main A-1 Skyraider from 1961 till the Vietnamization with A-37 Dragonfly and F-5 for tactical air support but without strategy high altitude bomber and tanker. These military equipment was unfitted when VN Navy had fought in Paracel Islands against Chinese Communist Force in 1974, VNAF could not do anything: fighting aircraft without air-surface missiles and refuelling probe, no tanker. US Military equipment for ARVN was focused on the defense position but not be able to launch an attack outside of the South Vietnam. In the Enhance Plus program in 1973-74, most of the equipment that US Army left behind was useless or had needed to repair and replace with new parts but abandoned in field till the fall of Saigon because lack of spare parts. Take a look on the VPAF (Vietnam People Air Force) today, they were equipped with the modern fighter-interceptor Sukhoi SU-27 Flanker as the Russia or China Air Force - Many VPAF pilots killed in Russia in training with Aero L-29 aircraft during the Vietnam war but no VNAF pilots killed in training flight in USA. Saying that ARVN could not handle US Modern Military equipment was a false argrument when US Government just wanted to end the war at all cost and abandoned the South Vietnam. http://vnafmamn.com/abandoned_soldier.html

Rising Sun*
09-11-2008, 09:33 AM
[Page 122.....I would most likely be in the field and I would stay with a South Vietnamese unit for at least three days. There was no re-supply in the field like the pizza helicopters for the American troops. They really had pizzas and ice-cream helicoptered out to them - which was wonderful intelligence for the Viet Cong. Apart from the helicopters buzzing around and giving away their position, they could smell the pizzas!

Occassionally true, but many American units had nothing like that level of support and had to grind their way through the landscape without air supply every day. A bit different to Australian units which got air supply maybe once a week and were out for weeks, but still most American units on serious patrols weren't lying around the countryside eating pizza and ice cream but just grinding along with what they could carry for a few days.


Some American soldiers used to walk with transistor radios playing through earpieces - while they were allegedly on patrol in the jungle looking for the VC. [/COLOR][/I]

That is well established, as is the shithouse bushcraft of many American units, but they were trained for a different sort of war and dumped into an environment which wasn't suited for it, where the Australians were trained for it later in the war, after some very ordinary performances early on.


But the average American units were treated with contempt because the men had no real jungle craft or sense of survival in the field. They used to call them "Elephants" because they would blunder around the jungle, and the VC could smell Americans literally a mile away - their toothpaste, cigarettes and shaving cream.

This commonly repeated idea unfairly denigrates the average American soldier.

The fact remains that the Yanks blew the shit out of the VC and NVA in many engagements, with or without toothpaste and shaving cream odours forewarning their enemy of their approach.

The reverse was true for experienced bush soldiers, American and Australian but not SVN, because they could smell their enemy because of the distinctive food, body and cigarette odours they had.

Average American units could have done a lot better with better training and tactics, but the experienced American bush soldiers (as distinct from the essentially garrison grunts in mud forts and FSBs) usually learnt on the job and became reasonably proficient reasonably quickly. Otherwise they died.

America didn't put hundreds of thousands of men through Vietnam without a lot of them learning to be good bush soldiers and passing their learning on to their successors.

B5N2KATE
09-11-2008, 11:32 AM
Thanx to all for this fascinating topic and the subsequent postings thereof.....

Must pick up that Sorley work on Creighton Abrahms.....a great American soldier and servant of the people...

Must state that comments from Bowden's book are not meant to denigrate U.S. actions....merely make the waters of understanding this complex issue just that little bit more clear....Neil Davis, himself, was very conscious of his own role in the documentation of the war as it was....not just as he saw it. His comments make good background in attempting to sort out the TRUTH from all the 'bull" that came out of the war in Indochina......As John Mileus wrote for his screenplay for "Apocalypse Now"....

"Oh MAN! The bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it...."

32Bravo
09-11-2008, 11:57 AM
The U.S. didn't win simply because they were fighting the wrong kind of war.

"Analogically, the guerrilla fights the war of the
flea, and his military enemy suffers the dog’s disadvantages:
too much to defend; too small, ubiquitous,
and agile an enemy to come to grips with.
If the war continues long enough—this is the
theory—the dog succumbs to exhaustion and
anemia without ever having found anything on
which to close its jaws or to rake with its claws."—Robert Taber

http://www.potomacbooksinc.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=50721


The Army has successfully
fought counterguerrilla wars. However, the
contradiction emanating from America’s unsuccessful
expedition in Vietnam is that, because the experience
was perceived as anathema to the U.S.
military’s core culture, hard lessons learned there
about fighting guerrillas were not preserved or rooted
in the Army’s institutional memory. The U.S. military
culture’s efforts to exorcise the specter of Vietnam,
epitomized by the shibboleth “No More
Vietnams,” also precluded the Army, as an institution,
from actually learning from those lessons.
The Army’s intellectual renaissance after Vietnam...

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/milreview/cassidy2.pdf

bruser
10-29-2008, 08:03 AM
They came from the north by mile after mile of tunnels from hanoi, in there thousands.There were no front lines in vietnam to go by like there was in ww1 ww2 and korea.And worst of all no backing from the people back home.

Nickdfresh
10-29-2008, 10:09 PM
Not really true. Although Vietnam was a classic insurgency, it was also a conflict that encompassed large land battles and classic, conventional engagements...

namvet
11-10-2008, 09:23 PM
da bad VC was beat in 68. politics won it for the North. limp **** politicans

namvet
11-10-2008, 09:28 PM
DA vc KICK *** THOUGH. yOU DIG!

on behalf of the 58,000 dead we're glad your side won.

namvet
11-10-2008, 09:35 PM
Ya, and how many colored soldiers lostbtheir lives?.why you dont tell me if your so smartt

now how in **** would i know that???? asshat

namvet
11-10-2008, 09:42 PM
So you dont know. Yo see know I got You. You dont know!!!Suckar


whatta want??? a loipop or ice cream bar. get lost

Rising Sun*
11-11-2008, 07:06 AM
now how in **** would i know that???? asshat

Well, it would be hard to know for certain.

You have a choice of African Americans (who, in the interests of historical accuracy at the end of an earlier era of American racial attitudes and terminology, were generally still called negroes during the 1960's main Vietnam era) being from about 11 to 15% of the American population during the Vietnam War and being from about 11.5% to 25% of the ground forces in SVN, and suffering about 12% to 50% of the grunt casualties, depending upon who you read; how reliable their research is or how they didn't bother to do any primary source research that interfered with the point they wanted to make; and which politico-racial axe they were grinding.

Needless to say, nobody pushing the black race barrow bothers to make the obvious comparison with poor white boys who were also drafted or volunteered at higher rates, and were more likely to serve as grunts, than the middle and upper white classes. If one wished, one could for Vietnam and other 20th and 21st century American wars demonstrate that the lower end of white American society bore and still bears the brunt of the military service and casualties, just like most other nations. This, however, is of no interest to people pushing black racial barrows although it interests people pushing class barrows.

Nor has the shift to disproportionate Hispanic casualties in American ground forces managed to become a racial or political issue. Yet. http://afs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/31/2/201

32Bravo
11-11-2008, 08:21 AM
Nor has the shift to disproportionate Hispanic casualties in American ground forces managed to become a racial or political issue. Yet. http://afs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/31/2/201


Well, give it time RS.

Seriously, am I right in believing that the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are not draftees? If so, then one can only assume that there is a higher level of volunteers from the latin quarter. Could this be a way for latino immigrants to gain citizenship.

I have to confess, I'm more than a little ignorant regarding American military formations. Are people posted into units about to serve in Iraq, from all over the place, or are the units a permanent establishment. This would make a difference as to how the latinos are committed.

Is Latino an offensive term?

Does anyone have any information on gay casualties?

Rising Sun*
11-11-2008, 08:57 AM
Well, give it time RS.

Seriously, am I right in believing that the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are not draftees? If so, then one can only assume that there is a higher level of volunteers from the latin quarter. Could this be a way for latino immigrants to gain citizenship.

Or maybe some just want the military training, which has been a concern in some quarters in a nation where you can get military training and then return to civilian life and get military weapons of all sorts which can be used for criminal purposes. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/a/gangs.htm


I have to confess, I'm more than a little ignorant regarding American military formations. Are people posted into units about to serve in Iraq, from all over the place, or are the units a permanent establishment. This would make a difference as to how the latinos are committed.

My understanding is that the US, since WWI, has in addition to regular army units deployed National Guard (= TA in UK) units in combat. They certainly did in WWI in France; in WWII in the SWPA; in Vietnam; and, I think, in Iraq.


Does anyone have any information on gay casualties?

Yes.

They are confined largely to navies and occur mostly at sea after about thirty to sixty days, and usually involve penetration. :D

32Bravo
11-11-2008, 09:26 AM
Yes.

They are confined largely to navies and occur mostly at sea after about thirty to sixty days, and usually involve penetration. :D

Would that be what they call 'Inter****' and 'extra****' ? :)

32Bravo
11-11-2008, 09:46 AM
Queer coincidence you should mention this.

I was in the Red Lion, Whitehall, with me marras, after the Cenotaph Parade on Sunday. As I went to get a round in one the lads was chatting with three girls by the bar, one of whom had a chest like the gun turret of a dreadnought.

As I pushed through to the bar he thought I was coming to cramp his style and commented “There are more gays in the Army than in the Navy – he’s gay!”

“Are you really gay?” asked HMS Bristol as she pressed her 22”-Navals into me.

“Yes I am!” says I “And I’m in a very happy relationship!”

“I bet I could turn you around!”

“I bet you a double tot of rum you can’t!” says I

The rest is history, but me marra was a bit pissed with me. :)

namvet
11-11-2008, 09:49 AM
Well, it would be hard to know for certain.

You have a choice of African Americans (who, in the interests of historical accuracy at the end of an earlier era of American racial attitudes and terminology, were generally still called negroes during the 1960's main Vietnam era) being from about 11 to 15% of the American population during the Vietnam War and being from about 11.5% to 25% of the ground forces in SVN, and suffering about 12% to 50% of the grunt casualties, depending upon who you read; how reliable their research is or how they didn't bother to do any primary source research that interfered with the point they wanted to make; and which politico-racial axe they were grinding.

Needless to say, nobody pushing the black race barrow bothers to make the obvious comparison with poor white boys who were also drafted or volunteered at higher rates, and were more likely to serve as grunts, than the middle and upper white classes. If one wished, one could for Vietnam and other 20th and 21st century American wars demonstrate that the lower end of white American society bore and still bears the brunt of the military service and casualties, just like most other nations. This, however, is of no interest to people pushing black racial barrows although it interests people pushing class barrows.

Nor has the shift to disproportionate Hispanic casualties in American ground forces managed to become a racial or political issue. Yet. http://afs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/31/2/201

funny at the time we never considered it a racial war.

tankgeezer
11-11-2008, 12:09 PM
Quote: "Is Latino an offensive term?" the answer is no, its fairly mainstream, everyone uses it. "Beaner" is gaining acceptance, tho is still a bit iffy should you not know the one you are using it to. "wetback" is unkind in most circles, but is still generally used by a segment of the populace.

Rising Sun*
11-11-2008, 04:36 PM
funny at the time we never considered it a racial war.

Some did, such as Martin Luther King in a 1967 speech which is worth reading for an insightful perspective on America and the war in Vietnam.


When we turn to the negative experiences of life, the Negro has a double share. There are twice as many unemployed. The infant mortality rate is double that of white. There are twice as many Negroes in combat in Viet Nam at the beginning of 1967 and twice as many died in action (20.6%) in proportion to their numbers in the population as whites. http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/publications/speeches/unpub/670225-001_The_Casualties_of_the_War_in_Vietnam.htm

And a more radical approach later by Eldridge Cleaver, Minister of Information, Black Panther Party, in an epistle which would probably get a Muslim saying the same sort of thing now locked up now under anti-terrorism laws.


To My Black Brothers In Vietnam

I'm writing this on January 4, 1970. We are starting out a new year. On August 31, I'll be 35 years old. I'm married, and I have one child with another one on the way. I am in love with my wife and I would like to enjoy a happy life raising a family. But I am not free to live the type of life that I would like. Pigs---the racist fascist rulers of the United States---won't let me.


And I would like to ask you Brothers: are you living the life that you want to live? Are these same pigs cramping your style? I don't believe that you actually prefer to be way over there, fighting against our Vietnamese Brothers and Sisters who are fighting for their freedom. Because your own People, whom you left behind in Zion, are also fighting for their freedom against the very same pigs who have you over there doing their dirty work for them. And your people need you--and your military skills---to help us take our freedom and stop these racist pigs from committing genocide upon us, as they have been doing for the past 400 years.

I am the Minister of Information of the Black Panther Party, and I am speaking to you now for the Party, but I want to put a personal note into this because I know that you niggers have your minds all messed up about Black organizations, or you wouldn't be the flunkies for the White organization--the U.S.A.--for whom you have picked up the gun. The Black Panther Party has picked up the gun too, but not to fight against the heroic Vietnamese people, but rather to wage a war of liberation against the very same pigs whom you are helping to run their vicious game on the entire world, including upon your own People. Dig it. I wonder, can you dig it? Can you dig niggers, brothers and sisters off the block, who have said later for the pigs and have picked up guns in Babylon, to bring to fulfillment the dreams of freedom that have kept our people alive for 400 years, under the racist yoke of the White man. From the said days of slavery in the cotton fields of the South, to the present bleeding years of the Democrats, Republicans. Uncle Toms, Lyndon B. Johnson and now, the foulist racist pig ever to become president of the United States, Richard Meally Mouth Nixon- your Commander in Chief and the Number One Enemy of our people

The struggle of our people for freedom has progressed to the form where all of us must take a stand either for or against the freedom of our people You are either with Your People or against them. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem. We either help our people or, by refusing to help them, make it easier for the enemy to destroy us. There are no two ways about it. While you are over there in Vietnam, the Pigs are murdering our People, oppressing them, and the jails and prisons of America are filling up with political prisoners. These political prisoners are your own Black Brothers and Sisters. We have a desperate, life and death struggle on our hands, and if we as a people are going to survive, then we must save ourselves. We need your help, desperately, before it is too late.

This is the moment in history that our people have been working, praying, fighting, and dying for. Now, while the whole world is rising up with arms against our oppressors, we must make a decisive move for our freedom. If we miss this chance, this golden opportunity who knows when we will get another chance? We cannot afford to gamble with this chance by putting things off. Now is the moment for decision. This very moment, right where you are. You do not have to wait until later, until after you are back home and out of the army. You can make your move now, while you are still inside the army, because the army is one of the key weapons which the pigs have up their sleeves to use against us when the time comes. And make no mistake about it, that time is coming and it is almost here. The pigs are using G.I.'s from Vietnam on the Police forces and National Guard units inside Babylon. Many of our Black Brothers go to Vietnam and learn how to kill human beings, then when they are released from the army they return home and end up on the Police force. On the police forces, they carry out the same dirty work against us, in the name of "Law and Order" that they carried out against the Vietnamese people.

In 1968-69, the pigs murdered 28 members of the Black Panther Party and nobody even knows how many other of our Black Brothers and Sisters were shot down by the pigs. But it is a long list. Scores of our Party members are being held as Political prisoners because they took a stand for the freedom and liberation of our people. Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party, our leader, is in prison in California. Our Chairman, Bobby Seale, is in jail and the pigs are trying to put him in the electric chair, in Connecticut, on trumped up charges. Pigs in Chicago murdered Fred Hampton while he was asleep in his bed. Shot him in his head with a shotgun, with 00 Buckshot. The pigs have been making mass arrests of our Party members, with 21 arrested in New York, 14 in New Haven, 18 in Los Angeles, and 16 in Chicago.

We appeal to you Brothers to come to the aid of your people. Either quit the army, now, or start destroying it from the inside. Anything else is a compromise and a form of treason against your own people. Stop killing the Vietnamese people. You need to start killing the racist pigs who are over there with you giving you orders. Kill General Abrahms and his staff, all his officers. Sabotage supplies and equipment, or turn them over to the Vietnamese people. Talk to the other Brothers and wake them up. You should start now weeding out the traitors amongst you. It is better to do it now than to allow them to return home to help the pigs wipe us out. Especially the Uncle Tom officers should be dealt with now, because the pigs will use them as effective tools against our people. When you can no longer take care of business inside the army, then turn yourself over to the Vietnamese people and tell them you want to join the Black Panther Party to fight for the freedom and liberation of your own people. If you do cross over, you don't have to worry about the Vietnamese people abusing you. They will be glad to see you drop out of the army because what they want most in life is to stop the fighting in their land. You have a duty to humanity as well as to your own people not to be used as murderous tools by racist pigs to oppress the people.

Think about it, Brother, and act on it, because you don't have much time. Organise all the Brothers around you and move. Force the pigs to understand that you will no longer be their slave and hired killer. Let the pigs know that, instead, you want the persecution of your Black Brothers and sisters to stop, and that you intend help stop it. Demand that Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale be set free. Especially, help us force the pigs not to murder Bobby Seale in the electric chair.

We have dedicated our lives, our blood, to the freedom and liberation of our people, and nothing, no force can stop us from achieving our goal. If it is necessary to destroy the United States of America, then let us destroy it with a smile on our faces. A smile for the freedom and liberation of our people. The Black Panther Party calls for freedom and liberation in our life time, because we want to leave behind us a decent world for our children to grow up in. Let's turn 1970 into a year in which our people make heroic drive for freedom and liberation.

ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

SEIZE THE TIME! http://www.hippy.com/article-74.html

namvet
11-11-2008, 04:54 PM
Or maybe some just want the military training, which has been a concern in some quarters in a nation where you can get military training and then return to civilian life and get military weapons of all sorts which can be used for criminal purposes. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/a/gangs.htm



My understanding is that the US, since WWI, has in addition to regular army units deployed National Guard (= TA in UK) units in combat. They certainly did in WWI in France; in WWII in the SWPA; in Vietnam; and, I think, in Iraq.



Yes.

They are confined largely to navies and occur mostly at sea after about thirty to sixty days, and usually involve penetration. :D

admin has blocked me from replying to your post 90

Rising Sun*
11-12-2008, 07:12 AM
admin has blocked me from replying to your post 90

Why?

Is it blocking you specifically or is there a block on any reply to my post?

I can't see why either should be blocked.

32Bravo
11-12-2008, 07:29 AM
Some did, such as Martin Luther King in a 1967 speech which is worth reading for an insightful perspective on America and the war in Vietnam.

http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/publications/speeches/unpub/670225-001_The_Casualties_of_the_War_in_Vietnam.htm

And a more radical approach later by Eldridge Cleaver, Minister of Information, Black Panther Party, in an epistle which would probably get a Muslim saying the same sort of thing now locked up now under anti-terrorism laws.

http://www.hippy.com/article-74.html

The war wasn't fought over race issues. The race issues arose from the way the US conducted the war.

No problem responding to post '90'

Rising Sun*
11-12-2008, 08:06 AM
The race issues arose from the way the US conducted the war.

Or perhaps from the race issues which existed in America before and during the war?

namvet
11-12-2008, 09:57 AM
Why?

Is it blocking you specifically or is there a block on any reply to my post?

I can't see why either should be blocked.

got me. and ONLY this post. when I click quote to reply i get

http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=141472

I asked admin and he claims it works. not for me

Rising Sun*
11-13-2008, 06:00 AM
got me. and ONLY this post. when I click quote to reply i get

http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=141472

I asked admin and he claims it works. not for me

That happened to me once. No way could I post to one non-contentious thread, although I had access to everything else.

Maybe you could try rebooting your computer, in case there's something that'll disappear on a reboot and let you post?

namvet
11-13-2008, 09:00 AM
That happened to me once. No way could I post to one non-contentious thread, although I had access to everything else.

Maybe you could try rebooting your computer, in case there's something that'll disappear on a reboot and let you post?

strange huh??? I still can't reply to post 90. im not gonna worry about just 1. if it start to be a habit then ill know somethings up.