• The U.S. and south Vietnamese were relying on air superiority and firepower to conduct Search and Destroy operations.
• These operations involved Ground Forces, artillery, and Airstrike.
• The United States entered the war to prevent the communist takeover of south Vietnam as part of containment. Military advisors arrived in 1950. U.S. combat units were deployed in the beginning of 1965.
• The Case Church Amendment was passed by the U.S. congress. It prohibited the use of American Military after August 15,1973
3-4 million Vietnamese from both sides.
1.5-2 million Laotians and Cambodians.
58,159 U.S. soldiers.
Background to 1949
• France had began it’s invasion of Indochina in the late 1850’s, and completed the pacification in 1893. the treaty of Hue concluded in 1884.
• Various Vietnamese opposition movements to the French rule existed during this period, such as Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang who staged the failed Yen Bai mutiny in 1930.
The one that was the most succesful the Viet Minh common front controlled by the Communist party of Vietnam founded in 1941. It was founded by the U.S. and the Chinese Nationalists in it’s fight against the Japanese.
• On Sept. 1945 Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Viet Minh, declared the Independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam before a crowd of 500,000 in Hanoi.
Exit of the French, 1950
• In Jan. 1950 communist nations recognized The Viet Minh’s democratic republic of Vietnam as the government of Vietnam. Non- communist nations recognized the French-backed State of Vietnam in Saigon led by former Emperor Bao Dai.
• PRC military advisors began assisting The Viet Minh in July 1950. PRC weapons expertise, and laborers transformed the Viet Minh from a guerilla force into a regular army.
• There talks between the French and Americans about using three tactical nuclear weapons. One plan was Operation Vulture.
• The Battle Of Dien Biem Phu marked the end of French involvement in Indochina. The Viet Minh and their commander Vo Nguyen Giap handed the French a stunning military defeat.
The transition period
• Vietnam was temporarily partitioned at the 17th Parallel, and under terms of the Geneva Convention. Around 1,000,000 Northerners mainly minority Catholics fled south.
• That was followed by an American propaganda campaign using slogans such as The Virgin Mary is heading south.
• It is estimated that as many as 2,000,000 more would have left had they not been stopped by The Viet Minh.
• The Geneva Conference, 1945
• The Domino theory which argued that if one country fell to communist forces, then all surrounding countries shall follow.
• A devout Roman catholic, Diem was fervently anti communist , nationalist, and socially conservative He was one of the few Vietnamese nationalists who could claim both atributes.
Insurgency in the South in 1956
• The Sino Soviet Split Led to a reduction in the influence of the PRC, which had insisted in 1954 that the Viet Minh accepted a division of the country.
• Ho Chi Minh said do not antagonize if you can avoid it.
During John F. Kennedy’s administration 1961-1963
• When Kennedy won the 1960 U.S. presidential election, one major issue Kennedy raised was weather the soviet space and missile programs had surpassed those of the U.S.
• JFK’s administration remained committed to the cold war.
• He faced a 3 part crisis the failure of The Bay of Pigs invasion, The construction the Berlin Wall, and a negotiated settlement between the Pro western gov. of Laos and the Pathet Lao communist movement.
• In 1961 Vice President Lyndon Johnson visited Saigon.
• The inept performance south Vietnamese army were exemplified by failed actions such as the Battle of Ap Bac on Jan 2,1963 which a small band of Viet Cong beat off a much larger and better equipped South Vietnamese force.
• Discontent with Diem’s policies exploded following the Hue Vesak shootings of majority of Buddhists who were protesting against the ban of the Buddhist flag on Vesak, the Buddha’s birthday.
• U.S. officials began discussing the possibility of a regime change during the summer of 1963. The United States department of State was in favor of encouraging a coup, While the Defense Department favored Diem.
• Chief among the proposed changes was the removal of Diem’s younger brother Nhu, who controlled the secret police and, special forces was seen as the man behind the Buddhist repression.
• General Paul Harkins the commander of U.S. forces in south Vietnam had predicted victory by Christmas.
• Officers from the CIA’s Special Activities Division trained and led Hmoung tribesmen in Laos and into Vietnam.
Lyndon B. Johnson expands the war, 1963-1969
• LBJ, as he took over the presidency after JFK’s death, didn’t consider Vietnam a priority .
• He was more considered with his Great Society.
• On November24, 1963, Johnson said, “The battle of communism must be joined… with strength and determination
• Johnson had reserved Kennedy’s disengagement policy from Vietnam in withdrawing 1000 troops by the end of 1963 NSSAM 263 on Oct. 11.
• The end military revolutionary council meeting in Lieu of a strong Vietnamese leader, was made up of 12 members headed by General Duong Van Minh.
• An alleged NLF activist, captured during an attack on an American outpost near the Cambodian border, is interrogated.
• On August 2, 1964 , the USS Maddox, on a mission along the coast of North Vietnam, was fired upon.
• a second attack was two days later on the USS Turner Joy and Maddox.
• An undated NSA publication declassified in 2005, however, there was no attack on August 4th.
• From a strength of 5,000 at the start of the 1959 the Viet Cong’s ranks grew to about 100,000 at the end of 1964.
• The National Security Council recommended a three-staged escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam. On march 2, 1965 Operation Flaming Dart, Rolling Thunder, and Arc light commenced.
Escalation and ground war
• It was decided that U.S. Air force base needed more protection. The south Vietnamese military seemed incapable of providing security.
• Minh warned that if the Americans want to make war for twenty years then we shall. If they want to make peace then we shall and invite them to afternoon tea.
• The Marines assignment was defense. The initial deployment of 3,500 in march was increased to nearly 200,000 by December.
• Desertion rates were increasing, and morale plummeted.
• General William Westmoreland informed Admiral Grant Sharp. Commander of the U.S. pacific forces, that the situation was critical.
• The Plan was approved by Johnson and marked a profound department from the previous departure from the previous administration’s insistence that the government of South Vietnam was responsible for defeating the guerrillas.
• Members of the U.S. Navy Seal team one move down the Bassac river in a STAB during the operations along the river south of Saigon , November 1967
• The one year tour of duty deprived units of experienced leadership.
• South Vietnam was inundated with manufactured goods
• Washington encouraged its SEATO allies to contribute troops. Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and the Philippians all agreed to send troops.
• Meanwhile the political situation in South Vietnam began to stabilize with the coming to power of prime minister Air Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky.
• The Johnson administration employed a “policy of minimum candor”
• Having lured general Westmorland’s forces into the hinterland at Khe Sanh in Quang Tri Province, the NVA and NLF broke the truce that had accompanied the Tet Holiday.
• Although the U.S. and south Vietnamese were taken aback by the scale of the urban offensive, they responded quickly.
• General Westmorland had become the public face of the war.
• In November 1967 Westmorland spearheaded a public relations drive for the Johnson administration to bolster flagging public support.
• Tet Offensive the turning point in America’s involvment in the war.
• Westmorland became chief of staff of the army in march.
• On may 10, 1968 despite low expectations, peace talks began between U.S. and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
• As historian Robert Dallek writes, LBJ’s escalation of the war in Vietnam divided Americans into warring camps cost 30,000 American lives by the time he left office.
• Propaganda leaflets urging the defection of NLF and North Vietnamese to the side of the republic of Vietnam.
• Severe communist losses during the Tet Offensive allowed U.S. president Richard Nixon to begin troop withdrawals.
• Nixon said to withdrawal 150,000 American troops to be completed during the spring of next year.
• On Oct 10, 1969 Nixon ordered a squadron of 18 B52s loaded with nuclear weapons.
• He also pursued negotiations.
• The anti war movement was gaining strength I the U.S.. Nixon appealed to the silent majority of Americans to support the war.
Operation Menu: the secret bombing of Cambodia and Loas.
• Prince Norodom Sihanouk had proclaimed Cambodia neutral since 1955, but the communists used Cambodian soil and the Prince tolerated their presence.
• In 1971 the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times.
• The ARVN launched Operation Lam Son 719 in February 1971.
• In 1971 Australia and New Zealand withdrew their soldiers.
• Vietnamization was again tested by the Easter Offensive of 1972.
• Rescue with Operation Linebacker and the Offensive was halted.
1972 election and Paris peace accords
• Nixon McGovern
• The war was the central issue of the 1972 presidential election.
• However, South Vietnamese president Thieu demanded massive changes to the peace accord.
• On Jan. 15, 1973 Nixon announced a suspension of offensive against North Vietnam.
Opposition to the Vietnam War: 1962-1975
• Opposition to the Vietnam war tended to unite groups opposed to U.S. anti-communism, imperialism, and colonialism.
On Oct. 15, 1969 The Vietnam Moatorium attracted millions of Americans.
Exit of the Americans1973-1975
• The U.S. began reducing their troop support in south Vietnam during the final years of vietnamization.
• Under the Paris Peace accord between north Vietnamese Foreign Minister Le Duc Tho and U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
• The communist leaders had expected that the ceasefire terms would favor their sides.
• As the Viet Cong’s top commander, Tra participated in several of these meetings.
• With U.S. bombing suspended, work on the Ho Chi Minh trail and other logistical structures could proceed unimpeded.
• Although McGovern wasn’t elected president, the Nov 1972 election did return a Democratic majority to both houses of congress.
• The oil price shock of Oct 1973 caused significant damage to the south Vietnamese economy.
• Gerald Ford took over as U.S. president on August 9,1974 after President Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal.
• Tra’s plan called for a limited offensive from Cambodia into Phuoc Long Province.
• On Dec. 13 1974 North Vietnamese forces attacked Route 14 in Phuoc Long Province.
• On march10 1975, General Dung launched Campaign 275, a limited offensive into the central Highlands.
• President Nguyen Van Thieu was fearful that his forces would be cut off in the North by the attacking communists.
• As the ARVN tried to disengage from the enemy, refugees mixed in with the line of retreat.
• On march 20, Thieu reserved himself and ordered Hue, Vietnam’s third largest city, be held at all cost
Final North Vietnamese Offensive
• With the northern half of the country under their control, the politburo ordered general Dung to launch the final offensive on Saigon.
• On April 7, three North Vietnamese divisions attacked Xuan Loc,
Fall of Saigon
• Chaos, unrest, and panic broke out as hysterical South Vietnamese officials and civilians scrambled to leave Saigon.
• Martin Law was declared.
• Schlesinger announced early in the morning of April 29 1975 the evacuation from Saigon by helicopter of the last U.S. diplomatic, military, and civilian personel.
People’s Republic of China
• In 1950 the People’s Republic of China extended diplomatic recognition to the Viet Minh’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam and sent weapons.
• China’s ability to aid the Viet Minh declined. When soviets aid to china was reduced.
• In the summer of 1962 Mao Zedong agreed to supply Hanoi with 90,000 rifles and guns for free.
• On the anti-communist side, South Korea had the largest contingent of foreign troops in south Vietnam after the U.S..
Australia and New Zealand
• Australia and New Zealand, close allies of U.S. and members of the southeast Asia treaty organization sent ground troops to Vietnam.
• 10,450 Filipino troops were dispatched to south Vietnam.
• Thai army formations saw action in South Vietnam between 1965 and 1971.
• The Soviet Union supplied north Vietnam with medical supplies, arms, tanks, planes, helicopters, and artillery.
• In 1967 North Korea sent a fighter squadron to north Vietnam.
Canada and the ICC
• Canadian, Indian, and Polish troops were representatives of NATO.
Republic of china (Taiwan)
• Since Nov. 1967 Taiwan secretly operated a cargo transport detachment to assist the US and the ROV.
Aftermath events in south Asia
• Phnom Penh, the Capital of Cambodia, fell to followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea.
• After repeated border clashes Vietnam invaded Cambodia which started the Cambodian Vietnamese war.
• In response china invaded Vietnam in 1979. Which started the Sino-Vietnamese war.
• More than 3 million people fled from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos many as “boat people”
Effect on the United States
• In the post war Americans struggled to absorb the lessons of the military intervention.
• Some have suggested that the responsibility for the ultimate failure of this policy lies not with men who fought but with those in congress.
• The inability to bomb Hanoi to the bargaining table also illustrated another U.S. miscalculation.
• Between 1965-1975 The U.S. spent 111 billion dollars on the war.
• More than 3 million Americans served in Vietnam. By the end 58,193 had died.
• One of the most controversial aspects of the U.S. military effort in southeast Asia was the widespread use of chemical defoliants.
• The defoliants included Rainbow Herbicides, Agent Pink, Agent Green, Agent Purple, Agent Blue, Agent White, and the most famous Agent Orange.
• There were over 4,000,000 victims of agent orange’s gas.
• In 1995, The Vietnamese Government found 1.1million were dead and 600,000 were wounded during the conflict with the U.S..