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Vietnam: Great Society to Great Quagmire

Vietnam: Great Society to Great Quagmire

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Vietnam: Great Society to Great Quagmire

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  1. Vietnam: Great Society to Great Quagmire

  2. 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 offensive. •  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.

  3. 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”

  4. Review 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

  5. Review 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

  6. Timeline 16 Oct 64 China explodes its first nuclear weapon I Nov 64 VC attack Bien Hoa Air Base • First directt attack on Americans; five Gis killed 3 Nov 64 Lyndon Johnson elected to presidency • Defeats Barry Goldwater by a landslide

  7. Attacks on US Airfields I Nov 64 VC attack Bien Hoa Air Base near Saigom • First direct 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 => “send a message” • Dual military and political objectives • Ran until 2 Nov 68 At LBJ’s order, Marines land at Da Nang 8 Mar 65 • To protect airfield

  8. Marines land at Da Nang March 8, 1965

  9. Expanding the War July 28, 1965 Excerpt ( click image ) ( Full Speech: 0 – 21:08 )

  10. Troop Levels

  11. A Flashback in Time August 22, 2013 ( Lesson 2 )

  12. Review Operation Desert Shield General Schwarzkopf’s dilemma: With limited mobility resources, do you first: or • Deploy fighting forces to defend Saudi Arabia? • Deploy logistics infrastructure to prepare for a bigger fight?

  13. Review Operation Desert Shield dilemma: decision: General Schwarzkopf’s Deploy forces to defend Saudi Arabia … and very aggressively! (This would later have an adverse impact on the buildup of forces for an offensive capability) Scott W. Conrad Moving the Force: Desert Storm and Beyond, p. 26

  14. Review Operation Desert Shield “Some who questioned our policy in the Gulf felt this deployment was overkill, but General Norman Schwartzkopf had learned from Vietnam the problems of gradual escalation.” Andrew Leyden “Summary of the Gulf War: Operation Desert Shield” Gulf War Debriefing Book Grants Pass, OR: Hellgate Press, 1997 What was different? Vietnam: 1964 – 1968 (536,100 troops) Gulf War: Aug 1990 - Jan-Mar 1991 (533,600 troops)* * 22 Feb 1991 Source: The Whirlwind War 14

  15. Buildup In Vietnam Why was our buildup in Vietnam so slow? Vietnam: 1964 - 1968 (536,100 troops) (533,600 troops) Gulf War: Aug 1990 - Jan-Mar 1991 Gradual escalation? Fear of Soviet or Chinese intervention? Lack of infrastructure? Probably a little of each!

  16. Vietnam: The Helicopter War "What would we do [in Vietnam] without helicopters? We would be fighting a different war, for a smaller area, at a greater cost, with less effectiveness. We might as well-have asked: 'What would General Patton have done without his tanks?’” General William Westmoreland Quoted by Lieutenant General John J. Tolson, USA Airmobility 1961-1971, Chapter 13

  17. The Helicopter War Why did the U.S. Army adopt the Airmobile* doctrine? • Concept not specifically developed for Vietnam • Conceived to move forces around an atomic battlefield • Ideally suited for Southeast Asia * using helicopters to move forces around the battlefield

  18. The Helicopter War The problem in Vietnam is terrain — jungles, mountains, rivers. Maneuver's a nightmare. That's why we came up with a plan to use helicopters. Leap in and out of battle. Dialogue from the movie “We Were Soldiers” (2002)

  19. Battle of IaDrang Valley November 14–18, 1965 Battlefield Mobility

  20. Battle of IaDrang Valley November 14–18, 1965 ( 26:56)

  21. Battle of IaDrang Valley November 14–18, 1965 ( 5:03 )

  22. Significance of Ia Drang First employment of Airmobile concept First major combat between US and NVA units Communist shift from Phase I to Phase II in Strategy of Revolutionary War

  23. Strategy of Revolutionary War Timeline 1954-1965: Phase I(guerilla warfare) • 1961-1965: Heated Politburo debate on transition 1965-1967: Phase II (combined guerilla & conventional warfare) • Increased large unit actions (Ia Drang, Khe Sanh)

  24. Timeline NVA troops begin moving into South Vietnam Early 1960’s Tonkin Gulf Resolution 7 Aug 64 Operation Rolling Thunder (bombing of North) begins 2 Mar 65 8 Mar 65 Marines land at Da Nang 1966-67 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) increases pressure on South Siege of Khe Sanh Begins Spring 67

  25. Siege of Khe Sanh Spring 1967 - March 1968

  26. Siege of Khe Sanh YouTube

  27. Timeline NVA troops begin moving into South Vietnam Early 1960’s Tonkin Gulf Resolution 7 Aug 64 Operation Rolling Thunder (bombing of North) begins 2 Mar 65 8 Mar 65 Marines land at Da Nang 1967 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) increases pressure on South Siege of Khe Sanh Begins Spring 67 31 Jan 68 Tet Offensive begins

  28. Strategy of Revolutionary War Timeline 1954-1965: Phase I (guerilla warfare) • 1961-1965: Heated Politburo debate on transition 1965-1967: Phase II (combined guerilla & conventional warfare) • Increased large unit actions (Ia Drang, Khe Sanh) 1968 (early): Phase III (Tet Offensive) (conventional warfare)

  29. Tet Offensive 1968 Began January 31, 1968 Country-wide combined VC & NVA offensive intended to inspire popular uprising Attack on Khe Sanh began earlier as a diversion

  30. Tet Offensive 1968 US Embassy Saigon attacked by VC

  31. Tet Offensive 1968 Battle of Hué Jan 31- Mar 3 1968

  32. Hué The Historic & Cultural Capital of Vietnam In February 1966, LBJ asked Gen. Westmoreland, the US commander in Vietnam, what he would do next if he were the enemy commander “Capture Hué,” Westmoreland immediately replied. Hué Citadel Almost two years to the day later, North Vietnam did just that

  33. Tet Offensive 1968 Battle of Hué Jan 31- Mar 3 1968 In February 1966, LBJ asked Gen. Westmoreland, the US commander in Vietnam, what he would do next if he were the enemy commander “Capture Hué,” Westmoreland immediately replied. Hué The Historic & Cultural Capital of Vietnam Almost two years to the day later, North Vietnam did just that

  34. Tet Offensive 1968 Battle of Hué Jan 31- Mar 3 1968

  35. Tet Offensive 1968 Battle of Hué Jan 31- Mar 3 1968

  36. Battle of Hué Video Pt 2 - 9:09 Pt 3 - 8:48 Pt 4 - 9:10 Pt 5 - 7:02

  37. Tet Offensive 1968 Turning point of the war … politically Saigon police chief executes Viet Cong Terrorist Photograph by Eddie Adams

  38. Tet Offensive 1968 Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News anchor, visited Vietnam Feb1968

  39. Post-Tet Walter Cronkite Upon his return to the US, Cronkite delivered an unprecedented editorial comment on this trip (February 27, 1968) “To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.” LBJ’s reply on hearing this: “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.” On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced he would not seek re-election. Source

  40. Strategy of Revolutionary War Timeline 1954-1965: Phase I(guerilla warfare) • 1961-1965: Heated Politburo debate on transition 1965-1967: Phase II (conbined guerilla & conventional warfare) • Increased large unit actions (Ia Drang, Khe Sanh) 1968 (early): Phase III (Tet Offensive) (conventional warfare) • Military disaster (VC destroyed) • “General Uprising” did not occur • Strategic victory none the less 1968 (mid): Phase II

  41. Vietnam: The Final Chapter

  42. Lesson Objectives • Understand the goals, provisions and consequences of President Nixon's Vietnamization policy. • Describe the efforts of President Nixon to change global strategic alignments and the implications of his initiatives. • Describe and analyze changes in the military situation in Vietnam from 1969 to 1973. • Describe and assess the impact of US political developments from 1969 through 1975.

  43. End