Why Couldn’t America Defeat The Viet Cong In The War Of Vietnam
I think this project will explain America’s problems that arose in the war of Vietnam and why they couldn’t defeat the Vietcong. Discussions will include the more experienced tactics of the Vietcong than their opposition. Also the Vietcong hosted parties and social activities to keep up morale whereas American’s were depressed over mosquito bites and hot weather etc.
During the process of the following coursework the above question shall be answered in the paragraphs of several sub-headings such as: ‘The Background,’ to give a reader a brief description of the Vietnam War and what it was like. Secondly, to the point, ‘why America got involved.’ Next, ‘American and Viet cong Tactics.’ What did each side have up there sleeves? Then, I shall discuss ‘The American Withdrawal.’ Why they left Vietnam for good.
In 1900, Vietnam became a colony of France with the French in control of the whole Vietnamese government. This caused uproar between the French and Vietnamese who yearned for independence to control their own country. In 1930, under the order of Ho Chi Minh, a communist in the south, a rebellion was ordered, an act of resistance against the French. However, France fought back with air attacks and regained control. This was known as the first Indo-china War. Ho Chi Minh’s soldiers are referred to as the Vietcong.
As the years progressed, more countries felt the need to be involved in the war to prevent the spread of communism throughout the world.
Why America Got Involved
On 27th of July 1964, 5,000 American military advisors were sent to South Vietnam, additional to the 16,000 already stationed there. Shortly after, on the evening of 4th August, an incident happened in the Gulf of Tonkin. Americans claimed a US destroyer was attacked by three Vietnamese navy torpedo boats whilst conducting an electronic intelligence gathering mission four miles off the north coast. This incident escalated the war and was America’s reason to become fully involved. Later, it appeared that no such incident ever occurred.
The US worry of the success of communism was the reason for such misinformation. If the Vietnamese succeeded the US in the war the communism may spread over the world and that wasn’t what America wanted. They felt they needed more involvement in the war due to the feared ‘Domino Effect,’ which refers to a small change reflecting a larger change elsewhere. If Vietnam becomes communist then other countries may follow. Hence, the US had to make sure communism lost conflict and the will to succeed the world.
“If the red tide of communism overflowed into Vietnam, then Thailand, India, Japan, the Philippines and obviously Laos and Cambodia would be threatened the independence of Vietnam is crucial to the free world.”2
Viet Cong Tactics of War
The Vietcong were of superior intellect. They fought what is described as a Guerrilla war, a strategy involving espionage and the knowledge of local surroundings to defeat opponents physically and even psychologically. They set traps and landmines in defence and planted bombs for attacks, then ‘mingled’ in with peasants wearing ordinary clothes. They were supplied with weapons from their nearby allies, China and Russia and used what is known as the Ho Chi Minh trail, a jungle route through Laos and Cambodia to reach their supplies.
Vietnamese, called their tactics, “Hanging onto the belts” of the Americans, staying close enough to the Americans so they could rarely use air attacks without destroying American lives.
A series of operations performed by Vietcong and the Vietnamese of the north in 1968 was given the name ‘Tet Offensive’ as it was due to begin on the night of January 30th. Tï¿½t Nguyï¿½n ï¿½ï¿½n – lunar New Year day. Often described as “the turning point in the war” the offensive was a major change in tactics for the Vietcong as it involved open battle not preferred by Vietcong soldiers. The plan was to ensure the Americans that they weren’t winning the war. Thousands of Vietcong troops infiltrated the city of Saigon. In the end, almost 45,000 Vietcong and North Vietnam communists and only a mere 1000 Americans were dead. Overall, the offensive was a military disaster for the Vietcong.
American Tactics of War
The American tactics were very technological. They used B52 bomber planes, artillery and napalm, a burning substance that dramatically burns skin to the bone, in result killing innocent civilians and didn’t stop Vietcong guerrillas. All peasants were forced out of Vietcong-controlled areas and moved into defended segregation areas, known as hamlets, to separate them from the very similar looking Vietcong. American troops got sent on patrol as bait and brought in air and artilleries once they were attacked. B52 bombers were used in the infamous US attack: “Operation Rolling Thunder.”
Also known as the “Rolling Thunder Program,” the bombing of North Vietnam by US and southern Vietnam forces in 1972. Rolling thunder was the first of three bombing campaigns against the north, followed by: “Operation Linebacker” and “Operation Linebacker II.” The objective of Rolling Thunder was to destroy all northern Vietnam’s air defences and to stop the circulation of the Ho Chi Minh trail but is branded a failure since it achieved none of these objectives. After 864,000 tons of bombs were dropped, rolling thunder claimed 90,000 lives 72,000 of them civilians.
The American Withdrawal
As the end of the 1960s approached, serious negotiations to end the war got under way. During the 1968 election for president, Nixon had promised to end the war by “Peace with honor.” He kept to his word by pursuing negotiations which included more cooperation with the South Vietnamese and3more Openness in the media. The latter was the main reason many Americans turned against the war after they learned of America’s involvement in crimes such as the My Lai massacre, where they murdered many unarmed Vietnamese, mostly women and children, in the hamlets. In December 1974, all funding was cut to the South Vietnam government.
The Paris Peace Accords, peace agreements, were signed on January 27, 1973 which officially ended US involvement in the Vietnam conflict; however, this agreement didn’t last for very long. In early 1975 the North invaded the South and quickly consolidated the country under its control. As America realized even their own country was against the war, from mid 1969 onwards, America announced withdrawals of military troops in Vietnam. By 1974 America had officially withdrawn from Vietnam. The last official American military action in Southeast Asia happened on 15 May 1975, when 18 marine and airmen were killed during a rescue operation known as the Mayaguez incident.
The longest war in American history came to an end on April 30th 1975 to the surrender of South. The communists renamed the city of Saigon: Ho Chi Minh City. 2.7 million Americans served in the war. 58,000 of them were killed and another 365,000 were wounded. The South Vietnamese lost more than one million soldiers, while the North lost 500,000. Adding to the millions of civilians killed, the death toll of Vietnam comes to approximately 5.4 Million.
As mentioned in the hypothesis, America was unable to defeat the Vietcong due to variation in tactics and difference in morale. Although Vietnam succeeded in the war it remains a poor country, with over a million people fleeing the nation since 1975. It relies heavily on Communist aid, and compared to other countries around the world, now, has little economic value.