Vietnam: In Search of a Strategy
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Vietnam: In Search of a Strategy. Lesson Objectives.

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Vietnam in search of a strategy

Vietnam: In Search of a Strategy


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Lesson Objectives

•  Understand the timeline of events that led to the decision for major U.S. troop deployments to Southeast Asia in 1965. •  Be able to articulate the issues and discussions surrounding the 1965 decision to escalate the war in Vietnam. •  Understand the evolution of U.S. objectives and strategy for the Vietnam War.


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Review

Timeline

The Stage is Set

* North Vietnamese Army


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Review

Strategy of Revolutionary War

Phase I: Targeted state stronger militarily

• Revolutionaries avoid combat

• Guerrilla war: raids, ambushes, sabotage, terrorism

• Political conflict predominant

Phase II: Rough military parity

• Combined guerrilla and conventional war

• Military and political conflict equally important

Phase III: Revolution stronger than targeted state

• Revolutionary forces go to totally conventional war

• “General Offensive” linked to political “Great Uprising”


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Review

Viet Minh Strategy

As Used In First Indochina War

Strategy of Revolutionary War

Objective: The seizure of power in a nation-state …

… by any means possible

Characteristics:

• Integrated military conflict and political conflict

• War on multiple fronts

• Geographical

• Programmatic


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Review

North Vietnamese Strategy

Viet Minh Strategy

As used In First Indochina War

Strategy of Revolutionary War

Objective: The seizure of power in a nation-state …

… by any means possible

Characteristics:

• Integrated military conflict and political conflict

• War on multiple fronts

• Geographical

• Programmatic

… just as they used against the French in the First Indochina War!


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Strategy of Revolutionary War

As applied to the Vietnam (Second Indochina) War

Timeline

1954-1965: Phase I(targeted state stronger)

• 1961-1965: Heated Politburo debate on transition


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

1961

Kennedy ordered 2,530 more advisors to South Vietnam

2,530


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

May 61

Kennedy ordered 2,530 more advisors to South Vietnam

11 Dec 61

US Army helicopters arrived in South Vietnam

Mar 62

USAF personnel began “training” ops in VNAF aircraft


Vietnam in search of a strategy

US Advisors

(to Army of the Republic of Vietnam - ARVN)

( First 1:26 )


Vietnam in search of a strategy

US Advisors

(to Montagnard irregulars)

 (5:00)


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Early Air Operations

(2:03 – 8:00)


Vietnam in search of a strategy

The Vietnam War

Operation Ranch Hand

Defoliation Spray Missions


Vietnam in search of a strategy

UC-123B in VNAF Markings


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Aircraft Markings

VNAF

USAF


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Operation Ranch Hand

( 7:37 – 9:02 )


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

NVA troops begin moving into South Vietnam

1960

1961

Kennedy ordered 2,530 more advisors to South Vietnam

11 Dec 61

US Army helicopters arrived in South Vietnam

Mar 62

USAF personnel began “training” ops in VNAF aircraft

Mar 62

RVN initiated Strategic Hamlet Relocation Program


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

NVA troops begin moving into South Vietnam

1960

1961

Kennedy ordered 2,530 more advisors to South Vietnam

11 Dec 61

US Army helicopters arrived in South Vietnam

Mar 62

USAF personnel began “training” ops in VNAF aircraft

Mar 62

RVN initiated Strategic Hamlet Relocation Program

May 62

VC began battalion-sized operations (Central Highlands)

1 Aug 62

Kennedy signed Foreign Assistance Act of 1962

• Provided assistance to countries under Communist attack


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

NVA troops begin moving into South Vietnam

1960

1961

Kennedy ordered 2,530 more advisors to South Vietnam

11 Dec 61

US Army helicopters arrived in South Vietnam

Mar 62

USAF personnel began “training” ops in VNAF aircraft

Mar 62

RVN initiated Strategic Hamlet Relocation Program

May 62

VC began battalion-sized operations (Central Highlands)

1 Aug 62

Kennedy signed Foreign Assistance Act of 1962

• Provided assistance to countries under Communist attack


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

3 Jan 63

Battle of Ap Bac: VC inflicted major defeat on RVN force

• First time VC units had held their own against ARVN

• Significant setback for US faith in Diem government


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Battle of Ap Bac

January 3, 1963

Green: Rice growing area


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

3 Jan 63

Battle of Ap Bac: VC inflicted major defeat on RVN force

• First time VC units had held their own against ARVN

• Significant setback for US faith in Diem government

May- Aug 63

Buddhist unrest, repression in South Vietnam

Monk Self-Immolation

Hué, RVN June 11, 1963


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Diem vs. Buddhists


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

3 Jan 63

Battle of Ap Bac: VC inflicted major defeat on RVN force

• First time VC units had held their own against ARVN

• Significant setback for US faith in Diem government

May- Aug 63

Buddhist unrest, repression in South Vietnam

Aug-Oct 63

Kennedy Administration discusses options for Diem

1 Nov 63

CIA-supported ARVN coup overthrows Diem

• Diem and this brother killed by ARVN


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

3 Jan 63

Battle of Ap Bac: VC inflicted major defeat on RVN force

• First time VC units had held their own against ARVN

• Significant setback for US faith in Diem government

May- Aug 63

Buddhist unrest, repression in South Vietnam

Aug-Oct 63

Kennedy Administration discusses options for Diem

1 Nov 63

CIA-supported ARVN coup overthrows Diem

• Diem and this brother killed by ARVN

22 Nov 63

President Kennedy assassinated in Dallas


Vietnam in search of a strategy

John F. Kennedy

May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963


Vietnam in search of a strategy

US Locked In

General William C. Westmoreland, who seven months after Diem's assassination replaced General Paul Harkins as commander of MACV, summed up the consequences of President Kennedy's involvement. “In his zeal, the young president made a grievous mistake in assenting to the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963,” Westmoreland said.

“In my view that action morally locked us in Vietnam. If it had not been for our involvement in the overthrow of President Diem, we could perhaps have gracefully withdrawn our support when South Vietnam's lack of unity and leadership became apparent.”

Why It Was Impossible for the U.S. to Stay Uninvolved

Col. William Wilson, USA (Retired)

Vietnam Magazine, April 1997


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Situation 1964

White House concerned about the 1964 election

Staffers realized current advising strategy was not succeeding

• Predicted North Vietnamese takeover that year

• Hoped to stave off collapse until after election

Fredrik Logevall

“Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam”

Presidential Studies Quarterly, March 2004

Link


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

Mar 64

Secret CIA bombing of Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos began

• Civilian pilots (Air America) flying old U.S. aircraft

May 64

LBJ staff begins drafting Congressional support resolution

• Temporarily shelved due to lack of support in Senate

Summer 64

Guerilla warfare spreading throughout South Vietnam

• Now supported by NVA regulars

2-4 Aug 64

Gulf of Tonkin Incident


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

Mar 64

Secret CIA bombing of Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos began

• Civilian pilots (Air America) flying old U.S. aircraft

May 64

LBJ staff begins drafting Congressional support resolution

• Temporarily shelved due to lack of support in Senate

Summer 64

Guerilla warfare spreading throughout South Vietnam

• Now supported by NVA regulars

2-4 Aug 64

Gulf of Tonkin Incident

7 Aug 64

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed by Congress

• Authorizes president to use force to protect U.S. forces

• President orders retaliatory strikes against North Vietnam


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Tonkin Gulf Incident


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Tonkin Gulf Incident


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Tonkin Gulf Incident

Jul 65

US & Vietnamese navies conducting special operations along N Vietnam coast


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Tonkin Gulf Incident

Jul 65

US & Vietnamese navies conducting special operations along N Vietnam coast

Destroyer USS Maddox providing support and conducting electronic intelligence gathering


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Tonkin Gulf Incident


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Tonkin Gulf Incident


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Tonkin Gulf Resolution


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Tonkin Gulf Incident

Robert McNamara (2002)

Players:

Admiral Sharp: Ulysses Simpson Grant Sharp, Jr., - CINCPAC.

General Burchinal: David A. Burchinal - Director, Joint Staff, JCS

Excerpt from The Fog of War (5:47)


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Timeline

16 Oct 64

China explodes its first nuclear weapon

I Nov 64

VC attack Bien Hoa Air Base

• First attack on Americans; five Gis killed

3 Nov 64

Lyndon Johnson elected to presidency by landslide


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Attacks on US Airfields

I Nov 64

VC attack Bien Hoa Air Base near Saigom

• First attack on Americans; five Gis killed

6 Feb 65

VC attack US base at Pleiku (central Highlands)

• Eight Americans killed, ten aircraft destroyed

President orders air strikes against North Vietnam

7 Feb 65

• Operation Flaming Dart continues to 24 Feb 65

7 Mar 65

President authorizes Operation Rolling Thunder

• Progressively escalating air attack against North Vietnam

• Dual military and political objectives

• Ran until 2 Nov 68


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Operation Rolling Thunder

Battlefield Vietnam Ep 10 (YouTube – 4:54)


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Support for Buildup

“Even in the aftermath of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, as the Johnson administration began increasing troop levels in Southeast Asia,

… 45 percent of Americans wanted to stay the course in Vietnam,”

… 36 percent wanted to 'step up the war by carrying the fight to North Vietnam,' for example, through more air strikes against communist territory,

… while only 19 percent supported pulling out. In short, by a large margin, Americans demanded victory of their leaders ...

A

Lyndon Johnson, then, was acting with the full faith and support of his electorate.

Joshua Zeitz

"1964 - The Year the Sixties Began"

American Heritage, October 2006

Source


Vietnam in search of a strategy

LBJ’s Dilemma

“In later years [Johnson] lamented:

'I knew from the start that I was bound to be crucified either way I moved.

If I left the woman I really loved, the Great Society, in order to get involved in that bitch of a war on the other side of the world, I would lose everything at home. All my programs.

... But if I left that war and let the communists take over South Vietnam, then I would be seen as a coward and my nation would be seen as an appeaser, and we would both find it impossible to accomplish anything for anybody anywhere on the entire globe.’”

Joshua Zeitz

"1964 - The Year the Sixties Began"

American Heritage, October 2006

Source


Vietnam in search of a strategy

The Great Society


Vietnam in search of a strategy

LBJ’s Dilemma

Escalate or Withdraw


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Discussions on Escalation

Feb 65 – Jul 65

Part 1

Feb-Mar 64

Part 2

May64

Part 3

Jun-Aug64

Part 5

Jun-Jul65

Part 4

Feb-Jun65


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Next:

Vietnam: Great Society to Great Quagmire


Vietnam in search of a strategy

Lesson Objectives

•  Describe and analyze the changes in the American home front and their impact on US conduct of the war prior to and after the Tet 1968 offensize. •  Describe and analyze the impact of technology in the Vietnam War. •  Describe and analyze the significance and history of the bombing campaign against North Vietnam. •  Be able to describe the Ho Chi Minh Trail and analyze its significance in the Vietnam War. •  Describe the operational and strategic significance of the Tet Offensive (1968) and analyze is impact on US foreign policy since.


Vietnam in search of a strategy

End


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