Johnson and The Vietnam War

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  • Johnson and The Vietnam War
    • Faced a difficult situation as Kennedy's actions increased US commitment to South Korea, there was no way he could pull out.
    • 1967 Thieu emerges as leader of the Republic of Vietnam
    • Had to face election in 1964 and could not be seen as 'soft on communism'
    • The Viet Cong controlled 30 - 40% of South Vietnam
      • Desertion from the ARVN was high and morale was low
      • More had to be done i.e extra money, additional advisers and launch covert missions against the North to warn them off
    • Gulf of Tonkin 1964
      • 2 US ships the USS Maddox and Turner Joy attacked by DRV patrol boats
      • Became Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1965
    • DRV receive increased help from the USSR and China as the US stepped up its involvement
    • 1965 - Viet Cong troops attack US air base in Pleiku
      • Resulted in a bombing campaign known as Operation Rolling Thunder
        • Over 3 years more bombs were dropped by the US than in World War 2
          • Not effective as many of the bombs didnt explode and thus provided Viet Cong with explosives for traps - The Ho Chi Minh trail was also not broken
    • March 1965 first US combat troops and two marine battalions sent to protect Da Nag airbase
      • The only options Johnson had was a humiliating pullout or to send more men
    • July 1965 Johnson increases US military personal to 125,000
    • La Drang Valley November 1965
      • Battle applied the tactics 'Search and Destroy'
      • US relied on its superior fire power to simply overwhelm the enemy
      • Days of fierce fighting
      • The NVA lost 3561 killed compared to the loss of 305 Americans
      • NVA reverted to Thanh's tactics  i.e. guerrilla attacks, these were not repeated until 1968
    • 1967 growing opposition to the Vietnam war in America
      • The Vietnam war was described as the first televised war and there was mass media involvement
      • Students burned their draft cards
      • Martin Luther King spoke against the war
      • Demonstrations spread across the cities
      • Support in Congress also began to faulter as many began to see Vietnam as not a US interest and a Vital waste of resources
      • Opposition increased in 1968 after the public saw the carnage of the Tet Offensive despite being told the enemy was nearly defeated at the start of the year
        • 20 millions viewers tuned in on 3rd February and saw the head of the National Police in South Vietnam  shoot a Viet Cong fighter in cold blood
        • CBS news reporter Walter Cronkite stated "What the hell's going on here, I thought we were winning this war?"
    • My Lai Massacre March 1968
      • Hundreds of Vietnamese civilians murdered, originally thought it was a Viet Cong base
    • The Tet Offensive 1968
      • VietCong and NVA use Thanh's Guerrilla tactics
        • Thanh died in 1967 but the basic idea behind the assaults appeared to have been his
      • Viet Cong and NVA's aim was to stimulate an uprising against General Thieu's government in the South by attacking the cities
        • Miles of secret tunnels were built under South Vietnam where fighters and weapons were hidden
        • Fighting was initiated near the western borders to draw the US away from the cities
      • NVA divisions attack US marines in Khe Sanh
        • The North Vietnamese had concentrated artillery despite the inhospitable terrain
      • Tet was a holiday and meant to be a day of ceasefire, this is why the communist forces attacked as it would take the US by surprise
      • January 1968 Viet Cong attack the US Embassy in Saigon and come close to capturing the main building
        • This was humiliating for the US
        • Also capture near by radio station but the electricity is cut off so the message for an uprising cannot be heard
        • 1st February nearly all attacks had been beaten off and those involved either killed or captured
      • Vet Cong seized Hue the old capital of Vietnam
        • Recapturing the city was a formidable task and cost many US lives  throught the many days of street fighting
        • Viet Cong flag finally pulled down on the 24th February 1968
    • 1968 was the worst year for US casualties
    • At the end of March 1968 Johnson shocked the nation by announcing that he would not be running in the coming election
      • Johnson also announced he would be drastically reducing the bombing of North Vietnam and seeking negotiations
  • Draft Document past by congress allowing Johnson to take necessary measures
    • Johnson stated that it was "like Grandma's might gown - it covered everything."
    • Gulf of Tonkin 1964
      • 2 US ships the USS Maddox and Turner Joy attacked by DRV patrol boats
      • Became Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1965


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