Role of US military
- Motivation questionable- 10 million served.
- Disunity- inexperienced and unpopular officers, disproportionate number of black combat troopss, disillusionment with aims.
- "Comfortable war"- R&R in Saigon/Japan, 1966 30,000 war-orphaned prostitutes, 1/4 soldiers caught STDs, 1970 58% smoked 'pot' and 22% heorin.
- Officers- served 5 months, under Nixon 83 officers killed by US soldiers.
- Grunts- young foot soldiers, 19 years old, guerilla warfare (booby traps) had psycological effect not knowing enemy.
- Poor relations with civilians- unable to win "hearts and minds". "If it's dead and Vietnamese, it's Vietcong". eg in My Lai Massacre
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Role of Vietcong & guerrilla warfare
Why were VC/NVA so successful?
- Unpopularity of US- treated Vietnamese peasants as sub-human, struggled to win them over.
- VC offered peasants fairer distribution of land.
- Communist soldiers avoided the **** and pilage characteristics of ARVN (Saigon's Army of Republic of S Vietnam)
- Good behaviour gained VC support of the peasants- important for their strategy of guerilla warfare.
- Popularity- "won the hearts and minds" land reforms
- Determination- fight till death, hatred of US.
- 'Hit and run'
- Used tunnels- long and sophisticated network
- Reused ammunition.
- Ho Chi Minh trail- nerver one set route
- Relied of villagers support in south for food and shelter.
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Role of the Tet Offensive 1968
- Military failure for communists, victory for US (General Westmoreland).
- Psychological defeat for US- peortrayed by meadea as a communist defeat.
- Was a series of surprise attacks by the VC and N Vietnamese forces, on cities, towns and hamlets in S Vietnam, starting on 31st Jan, an important Vietnamese holiday.
- 70,000 VC attacked 36 cities and towns.
- VC fought into the US Embassy grounds, failed to capture the building.
- 45,000 NLF soldiers killed.
- General Westmoreland required 200,000 more US soldiers.
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My Lai Massacre- March 1968
- My Lai is a village in S Vietnam.
- Search and destroy mission- US soldiers told to find members of VC in the village.
- Hundreds of villagers were killed.
- A number of US soldiers were charged- the Lieutenant who commanded the attack sentenced to life imprisonment.
- Split US opinion- many horrified, some thought that the villagers were hiding the VC.
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Opposition to the War in the US
- Soldiers against the war due to atrocities committed and witnessed. 1960-73 503000 soldiers deserted posts.
- My Lai Massacre- publicised in New York Times.
- Anti-draft movement- increasing numbers in 1965, people tore up and burnt draft papers, 40000 soldiers called up per month. Boxer Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted.
- Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organised 'teach-ins'
- 1967, 100000 protestors listened to MLK speak at Lincoln Memorial.
- Death count increases and oppostion. 1968- most amount of deaths.
- Economic expense- $25 billion per year. Johnson's 'Great Society' reforms scrapped.
- Hippie movement- 'love not war', Woodstock 1969, Lennon 'bed-in'/
- US conduct was illegal- war crime tribunal 1967 found US prohibited weapons and torture.
- Washington protests 1967 and 1971, NY protests 1966.
- Disproportionate amount of black people were drafted to the War- black opposition- MLK.
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Nixon and the Bombing Campaign
- Nixon elected as President in 1969.
- Detente was the de-escalation and warming of Cold war tensions leading to a smaller chance of military confrontation.
- Madman Strategy- Nixon used nuclar weapons as a threat to force peace talks, and acted like a 'madman', for example he used bombing threats to frighten Hanoi and pressured Ho into peace talks.
- Escalation- Nixon warned Hon that if negotiationis didn't progress, he would have to escalate. Jan 1970 Nixon ordered Ho Chi Minh Trail to be heavily bombed. Spring Offensive.
- 'Vietnamisation' policy meant S Vietnamese soldiers had to fight. 1971 invasion of Laos, US supported ARVN, showed failure of Vietnamisation.
- Paris Peace Talks 1968-73, terms were all fighting in Indo-China would stop, US troops withdraw from Vietnam, US PoWs releaseed, elections held in South to choose new gov.
- Thieu wasn't happy with terms (he knew ARVN no match for Communist forces) and rejected agreement.
- December 1972, Nixon ordered massive bombing on North.
- North started negotiations aginat and Thieu forced to accept agreement- Nixon over-ruled him.
- Was signed in Paris on 27th Jan 1973.
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Northern Victory and Fall of Saigon 1975
- By March 1973, all US troops had left Vietnam, apart from those protecting the embassy.
- April 1975, Saigon fell to N Vietnamese forces.
- Vietnamisation failed to prepare ARVN appropriately- too dependent on US.
- General Thieu fled to Taiwan in April 1975- frightened of Communists.
- By April 30th 1975 S Vietnam under Communist control.
- Saigon became Ho Chi Minh city.
- Nearly 5 million people killed during the war.
- US didn't restore relations with Vietnam- gave no money, or help during reconstruction.
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