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Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam Challenges of Limited war . Korea. Divided Korea. After World War II, Japan’s former colony of Korea was divided into two occupation zones along the 38 th parallel with the Soviet zone in the north and the US zone in the south

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Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam Challenges of Limited war


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divided korea
Divided Korea
  • After World War II, Japan’s former colony of Korea was divided into two occupation zones along the 38th parallel with the Soviet zone in the north and the US zone in the south
  • Before the occupation forces departed, an anticommunist regime was established in the south and a communist one in the north
us in asia
US in Asia
  • The US was uncertain as to the extent of its commitment in Asia
  • It knew its umbrella definitely covered Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines, but it was unclear about Taiwan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia
  • Believing the US did not intend to protect South Korea, the USSR allowed the North Koreans to invade the south in 1951

Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s speech to the National Press Club omitted South Korea from the US “defensive perimeter”

north korea attacks june 25 1951
North Korea Attacks: June 25, 1951
  • North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel with an invasion force totaling over 90,000 troops and 150 Soviet-built tanks
  • By the night of June 28, Seoul had fallen and the South Korean forces were in disarray.
  • South Korea appealed to the United Nations for assistance
  • The UN passed a resolution recommending that “the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area.”
united nations
United Nations
  • As a member of the UN Security Council, the Soviet Union could have vetoed UN involvement in the war
  • However, at the time Moscow was boycotting the Security Council in protest of the UN’s failure to seat a representative of the newly established People’s Republic of China
    • (Remember from last lesson the victory of the communists over the nationalists in China)
  • In the absence of the USSR, the UN passed a resolution sending a military force to South Korea
  • The force was predominately American with Douglas McArthur as the Supreme Commander.
    • There were also substantial contributions from the UK, Canada and other Commonwealth countries.
pusan perimeter june 27 to sept 15
Pusan Perimeter:June 27 to Sept 15
  • The American forces were unprepared for the North Korean attack.
  • By the end of July, the North Koreans had pushed the UN forces to the southeast corner of the peninsula, where they dug in around the port of Pusan.
inchon operation chromite sept 15
Inchon (Operation Chromite)Sept 15
  • MacArthur completely changed the course of the war overnight by ordering -- over nearly unanimous objections -- an amphibious invasion at the port of Inchon, near Seoul.
  • The Americans quickly gained control of Inchon, recaptured Seoul within days, and cut the North Korean supply lines.
  • American and ROK forces broke out of the Pusan Perimeter and chased the retreating enemy north.
approaching the yalu
Approaching the Yalu
  • MacArthur continued to push north, ignoring threats of Chinese intervention
  • On October 25, the Chinese army attacked after having infiltrated into North Korea
  • After suffering setbacks, the UN forces stabilized their lines by November 5
  • Chinese withdrew northward
  • MacArthur launched a great offensive toward the end of November, which he optimistically hoped would end the war in Korea
counteroffensive
Counteroffensive
  • MacArthur's “all-out offensive” to the Yalu had barely begun when the Chinese attacked en masse on the night of November 25.
  • Roughly 180,000 Chinese troops shattered the right flank of the Eighth Army in the west, while 120,000 others threatened to destroy the X Corps near the Chosin Reservoir.
  • On November 28, MacArthur informed the Joint Chiefs, “We face an entirely new war.”
  • UN retreat ended about 70 miles below Seoul.
stalemate
Stalemate
  • Beginning January 15, Ridgway led the UN in a slow advance northward.
  • UN re-recaptured Seoul (the fourth and final time it changed hands) on March 15, and had patrols crossing the 38th parallel on March 31.
  • In the meantime, MacArthur had been steadily pushing Washington to remove the restrictions on his forces.
  • Truman declined for fear of widening the war
macarthur s relief
MacArthur’s Relief
  • MacArthur repeatedly made public statements that were contrary to official US policy and suggested that Truman Administration policies were responsible for the retreat of the Eighth Army
  • Eventually Truman was forced to relieve MacArthur and replace him with Ridgway

“But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory.” MacArthur’s Farewell Address

Apr 19, 1951

negotiation and stalemate
Negotiation and Stalemate
  • On June 29,1951, Ridgway broadcast a message to his communist counterpart announcing his willingness to negotiate
  • Eighth Army transitioned to an “active defense”
  • Tried unsuccessfully to break communist supply line with air and artillery

Matthew Ridgway

negotiation and stalemate14
Negotiation and Stalemate
  • Both sides expended enormous amounts of effort to solidify their lines
    • Costly seesaw battles like Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, and Old Baldy
  • Negotiations characterized by intransigence
    • POWs a major obstacle
  • Armistice not signed till July 27, 1953

Heartbreak Ridge with Bloody Ridge in background

korea today
Korea Today
  • An armistice is not a peace treaty so the Korean War did not officially end with its signing
  • Today a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) encompasses 2 kilometers on either side of the 151 mile long Military Demarcation Line (MDL)
  • North Korea remains communist and a nuclear threat

Panmunjeom is the official diplomatic headquarters at the DMZ. North Korean guards, in brown, face their South Korean counterparts, in blue.

fidel castro
Fidel Castro
  • In the early 1950s Cuba was controlled by a moderate right-wing military regime that was friendly to the US government and businesses
  • The US supported Fulgencio Batista as an anti-communist and a proponent of the US in domestic and international policies
  • However, in 1959 Fidel Castro was able to mobilize the disaffected rural peasants and topple Batista’s regime

A Cuban crowd listens to Castro after his takeover

fidel castro18
Fidel Castro
  • Castro assumed dictatorial powers and announced his goal was to create a society based on Marxist principles
  • He nationalized large-scale landholdings, sought economic aid from the Soviet Union, and tried to export revolution throughout Latin America through peasant and urban guerrilla warfare

Che Guevara directed many of Castro’s Latin American operations until he was killed in Bolivia in 1967

bay of pigs
Bay of Pigs
  • The US could not accept the presence of a revolutionary Marxist government so close to its borders and President Eisenhower authorized planning for a force of anti-Castro Cubans to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro
  • When Kennedy became president he authorized the invasion but stipulated that the US not be involved in the landing itself
bay of pigs20
Bay of Pigs
  • The invasion took place at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and proved to be a disaster
  • Instead of rallying to the invaders, the local population supported the Castro government
  • The failure embarrassed the US and weakened President Kennedy in the eyes of the Soviet Union
    • However, it strengthened Kennedy’s personal resolve to act more vigorously in any future crisis

Castro helping to repel the invasion

cuban missile crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Castro feared the US would try again to overthrow him and he called for additional support from the Soviet Union
  • Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev responded by sending medium-range bombers and missiles to Cuba to help defend Castro and threaten the US
  • In Oct 1962, US spy planes discovered missile sites under construction in Cuba
kennedy s response
Kennedy’s Response
  • Kennedy responded decisively, demanding that the Soviets remove the missiles and bombers or face their destruction by air strikes or invasion
  • He also imposed a naval “quarantine” of Cuba
us victory
US Victory
  • On Oct 28, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles
  • “Eyeball to eyeball, they blinked first.”
    • Dean Rusk, US Secretary of State
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis had shown the dangers of nuclear apocalypse in the bipolar world
  • It was a major Cold War victory for the US and a major loss of face for the Soviet Union and Khrushchev

1962 British cartoon showing Kennedy and Khrushchev arm wrestling on top of nuclear weapons

vietnam post world war ii
Vietnam: Post-World War II
  • Vietnam was divided after World War II to facilitate disarmament and then formally divided in 1954 by the Geneva Accords
    • Communist forces in the north led by Ho Chi Minh forced the withdraw of French forces in 1956
    • In 1959, Ho declared a “Peoples’ War” to unite Vietnam
  • In 1961, President Kennedy sent 400 Green Berets to Vietnam
    • In Oct 1961, Maxwell Taylor visited Vietnam and reported “If Vietnam goes it will be exceedingly difficult to hold Southeast Asia.” (domino theory)
vietnam major us involvement
Vietnam: Major US Involvement
  • 1964… North Vietnamese patrol boats attack a US destroyer in Gulf of Tonkin. US begins bombing.
  • Mar 2, 1965… Operation Rolling Thunder begins.
  • Mar 8, 1965… First US combat troops arrive. By the end of the year, 184,300 troops are in Vietnam.

The massive bombing campaign was plagued by restricted targeting and the non-industrialized nature of North Vietnam

conditions in south vietnam
Conditions in South Vietnam
  • Diem’s regime was illegitimate and corrupt
    • Catholic in an overwhelmingly Buddhist society
    • Ignored Geneva Accords call for elections in 1956
    • Nepotism
  • Succession of military coups resulted in a revolving door government

Several Buddhist monks burned themselves alive to protest Diem’s religious oppression

insurgent leadership
Insurgent Leadership
  • Increasing North Vietnamese infiltration created security threat in South Vietnam
  • In Dec 1960, the insurgents formed the National Liberation Front (typically called the Viet Cong or VC), a broad-based organization led by communists but designed to rally all those disaffected with Diem by promising sweeping reforms and genuine independence
    • Developed effective military and political components

Flag of the National Liberation Front

external support
External Support
  • North Vietnam began constructing a massive supply route through Laos and Cambodia that allowed it to infiltrate supplies and personnel south
    • The Ho Chi Minh Trail
  • The Soviet Union and China provided equipment, advisors, and diplomatic support
mao on guerrilla warfare
Mao on Guerrilla Warfare
  • Mao wrote On Guerrilla Warfare in 1937 while in retreat after ten years of battling the Nationalist Chinese army of Chiang Kai-shek
  • In 1949, Mao defeated the Nationalist Chinese and validated his theories of revolutionary guerrilla warfare
    • Remember from last lesson
  • The National Liberation Front would pattern much of its strategy and tactics after Mao
phases of development
Phases of Development
  • Phase I: Latent and incipient insurgency.
    • Activity in this phase ranges from subversive activity that is only a potential threat to situations in which frequent subversive incidents and activities occur in an organized pattern. It involves no major outbreak of violence or uncontrolled insurgent activity. The guerrilla force does not conduct continuous operations but rather selected acts of terrorism.
phases of development33
Phases of Development
  • Phase II: Guerrilla warfare.
    • This phase is reached when the insurgent movement, having gained sufficient local or external support, initiates organized continuous guerrilla warfare or related forms of violence against the government. This is an attempt to force government forces into a defensive role. As the guerrilla becomes stronger, he begins to conduct larger operations.
phases of development34
Phases of Development
  • Phase III: War of movement.
    • When the guerrilla attains the force structure and capability to directly engage government forces in decisive combat, then he will progressively begin to use more conventional tactics and may obtain combat forces from an external source. He may also begin to conduct more extensive defensive operations in this phase to protect the areas he controls.
pacification
Pacification
  • Between 1961 and 1963, President Kennedy launched a full-scale counterinsurgency program in Vietnam, part of which would become the “pacification” program
  • Major goals
    • Strengthen the South Vietnamese government’s hold on the peasantry
    • Cut into the heart of the Viet Cong politico-military organization
  • Designed to “win the hearts and minds” of the South Vietnamese

In 1967, Robert Komer, shown here with President Johnson, was selected to head CORDS (Civil Operations and Rural Development Support)and coordinate all pacification programs

pacification various programs
Pacification: Various Programs
  • Strategic Hamlet Program
    • Peasants from scattered villages were brought together in defended and organized hamlets in order to protect them, isolate the Viet Cong, and show the superiority of what the SVN government could offer
  • Combined Action Program
    • Placed selected Marine squads within the village militia to eliminate local guerrillas
  • Revolutionary Development Program
    • Put armed social workers into Vietnamese villages to begin grass roots civic improvement and eliminate the VC shadow government
  • Chieu hoi (opens arms)
    • Amnesty program designed to persuade VC to change sides
pacification overall assessment
Pacification: Overall Assessment
  • Commonly considered a missed strategic opportunity
  • Suffered from being “too little, too late”
    • CORDS not activated until 1967
  • Perceived as competition with the “big war” and many military officers favored a “military solution”

Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay reportedly said, “Grab ‘em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.”

limited war
Limited War
  • When the Soviet Union and the US nuclear programs reached the point of Mutually Assured Destruction, the US faced the dilemma of responding to communist challenges in peripheral areas by either risking starting a nuclear war or doing nothing
  • The alternative strategy of limited war was developed to harness the nation’s military power and employ only that force necessary to achieve the political aim
  • The objective was not to destroy an opponent but to persuade him to break of the conflict short of achieving his goals and without resorting to nuclear war
limited war39
Limited War
  • The limited war theory was more an academic than a military concept and its application resulted in tensions, frustrations, and misunderstanding between the military and civilian leadership

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara is sharply criticized for his technocratic and statistical approach to the Vietnam War

strategy of attrition
Strategy of Attrition
  • Traditionally, the “American way of war” had been a strategy of annihilation
    • Seeks the immediate destruction of the combat power of the enemy’s armed forces
  • In Vietnam, the US would instead follow a strategy of attrition
    • The reduction of the effectiveness of a force caused by loss of personnel and materiel
  • This proved to be a poor strategy against the North Vietnamese who used a strategy of exhaustion
    • The gradual erosion of a nation’s will or means to resist
problems with the strategy of attrition
Problems with the Strategy of Attrition
  • Led the US to fight according to the theory of gradual escalation
    • A steady increase in the level of military pressure would coerce the enemy into compliance instead of employing overwhelming force all at once
    • US never had enough forces to control the countryside
    • US soldiers served one year tours in Vietnam
    • North Vietnamese soldiers were there till the end and recognized “Victory will come to us, not suddenly, but in a complicated and tortuous way.”
us troop levels in vietnam
US Troop Levels in Vietnam
  • 1959 760
  • 1960 900
  • 1961 3,205
  • 1962 11,300
  • 1963 16,300
  • 1964 23,300
  • 1965 184,300
  • 1966 385,300
  • 1967 485,600
  • 1968 536,100
  • 1969 475,200
  • 1970 334,600
  • 1971 156,800
  • 1972 24,200
  • 1973 50
problems with the strategy of attrition43
Problems with the Strategy of Attrition
  • The nature of guerrilla war allowed the North Vietnamese to avoid contact when it was not to their advantage to fight
  • Low-tech nature of the enemy prevented the US from bringing to bear the full effects of its combat power
  • North Vietnamese were always able to replace their losses while Americans became disillusioned with the mounting death toll
tet offensive
Tet Offensive
  • On January 30, 1968, the North Vietnamese escalated to Phase III, the War of Movement, when 84,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese attacked throughout South Vietnam
  • Designed to foster antigovernment uprisings against the South Vietnamese
tet a us tactical victory
Tet: A US Tactical Victory
  • By attacking everywhere, the North Vietnamese had superior strength nowhere
  • By fighting in a conventional fashion, the North Vietnamese allowed the US to bring to bear its full firepower and technology and use a strategy of annihilation
  • The North Vietnamese had wrongly assumed South Vietnamese were on the verge of a general uprising

Helicopters gave the US the ability to cover all types of terrain, maneuver over large areas, react quickly to enemy attacks, reinforce embattled units, and conduct raids into enemy territory

overall results of tet
Overall Results of Tet
  • Tactical defeat for North Vietnam forces them back to Phase 2
    • North Vietnamese 32,000 killed and 6,000 captured
    • US and South Vietnamese 4,000 killed
  • But a strategic victory
    • “I thought we were winning this war!” (Walter Cronkite)
    • Dramatic shift in public opinion in US

Returning from Vietnam after Tet, Walter Cronkite reported, “It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is a stalemate” and then urged the government to open negotiations with the North Vietnamese.

societal changes
Societal Changes

Martin Luther King delivers his “I have a dream” speech in 1963

Country Joe McDonald at Woodstock, 1969

Gloria Steinem helped found Ms magazine in 1971

president johnson
President Johnson

Democratic delegates protest the Johnson administration's policies in Vietnam at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

President Lyndon B. Johnson listens to tape sent by Captain Charles Robb from Vietnam, July 31, 1968.

president nixon
President Nixon
  • Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968 campaigning for “peace with honor”
  • Under Nixon the process of “Vietnamization”– the gradual transfer of primary responsibility of the war to the South Vietnamese that Johnson had begun on a small scale after Tet– was accelerated
  • Nixon’s involvement in Watergate, his impeachment, and resignation hamstrung his ability to influence peace negotiations through sustained offensive operations

Nixon was succeeded by Gerald Ford. By this point the US was traumatized by war-weariness and economic recession. Ford had almost no maneuver room to help the South Vietnamese.

kent state and jackson state
Kent State and Jackson State

Four students were killed and nine wounded at Kent State and two students were killed at Jackson State during protests against a number of issues to include US operations in Cambodia

defeat
Defeat
  • The US concluded a peace agreement with the North Vietnamese in 1973, but the South Vietnamese continued fighting until April 30, 1975 when the North Vietnamese captured Saigon

Americans and South Vietnamese who had worked for the US are evacuated from Saigon

legacy and lessons
Legacy and Lessons
  • Sophisticated weaponry and conventional forces have limits in “low intensity conflict”
  • The restrictive rules of engagement (ROEs) and political considerations of limited war hamper military operations
  • Domestic support is critical
  • You can win the battles and lose the war
  • “Vietnam syndrome” effects military and diplomatic operations until finally exorcised by Desert Storm.
vietnam today
Vietnam Today
  • Vietnam remains communist
  • However, since 2001, it has committed to economic liberalization and is trying to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries
  • An April 28, 2005 article in the Economist was aptly titled “America Lost, Capitalism Won”
  • If you’re interested, USM has a nationally-acclaimed Vietnam Study Abroad Program