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  • Created on: 08-06-18 16:31

Civil war in SV against Diem

A Non-communist government was set up in SV under president Diem.

However, he was a cruel leader.

Was a Catholic in a Buddhist country. Monks protested his lack of tolerance.

The US helped because he was anti-communist.

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Viet Cong

Ho Chi Minh was the leader of NV (popular).

Mission unify V.

In 1960 the National Liberation Front (NFL) was formed, with the support of Ho Chi Minh tasked with unifying V.

Diem called them Viet Cong.

NFL demanded the removal of Diem and started Guerrilla warfare.

By 1961 over 20,000 Viet Cong guerrillas were in SV they would have to defeat SV and US.

NFL was trained in ambushes and was supported by NV and SV. Trained in surprise attacks, laying traps and using their jungle. The Ho Chi Minh trail was created in 1959 to supply NFL. In SV Viet Cong set out to win support with local pop. With 100,000+  troops in SV, they controlled lots of land by early 60s. 

Diem became unpopular and was killed in 1963 by his own troops. SV had 10 different GOVS in the next 2 years.

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US involvment

The USA was unprepared for V falling to communism.

The president and J.F Dulles convinced communism was spreading through Asia.

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US intervention

Eisenhower spent 1.6 billion bewteen 1954-60.

By 1962 11,000 'advisors' were sent to help train troops. By then they did not know they already lost the support of the V people.

For example, The strategic Hamlets programme in the early 60s was meant to move villages from VC controlled areas to SV areas. America supplied money, materials to build homes.

This was not working because:

  • worked without pay
  • the enemy did not threaten them
  • corrupt officials took the money
  • moving for no reason angered them
  • pointless manual labor
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The Gulf of Tonkin

JFK was sending 'advisors' to help but he was assassinated and his successor Lyndon Baines Johnson was more prepared for war.

In August 1964 NV patrol boats shot as US ships in Tonkin. Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution which gave LBJ power to do whatever to 'pursue peace and security'.

The US went to war.

In 1965 LBJ approved mass bombing runs called Operation Rolling Thunder in February against NV.

March 8th, 1965, 3500 US Marines came ashore at Da Nang.  No more helping ARVAN America would use its own troops.

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Viet Cong Tactics

Early 1965 NV army and Viet Cong had 170,000 troops. Supplied well from China and USSR. Still outnumbered by US and SV armies. No option for open warfare.

November 1965 2000 Vietcong died in La Deng valley while the US lost only 300 troops. Ho Chi Minh knew Guerrilla tactics could defeat SV and US. Just as Mao Zedong used it to win China.

Principles of Guerrilla warfare:

  • retreat when enemy attacks
  • raid enemy camps
  • attack when enemy tires
  • pursue when enemy retreats

Guerrilla warfare= nightmare for the US they were just like the peasants and were indistinguishable. 

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Viet Cong Traps

US soldiers were in constant fear of booby traps which could be like tripwires or pits with spikes. Cheap and easy to make ane effective against the US. 'on point' was an unpopular duty (checking for traps). 

Another trap was the Bouncing Betty which caused terrible injuries.

Booby Traps caused 11% of US casualties and 51% by small arms fire in 'firefights'.

Viet Cong feared US air power so made combat close quarter. This meant US air power and artillery could do nothing. A tactic known as 'hanging on to American belts'.

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Ho Chi Minh knew it was important to have pop on their side. Viet Cong was to be respectful and helpful. However, were prepared to kill if opposed.

Populace conducted attacks on SV government employees

Between 1966-71 Viet Cong killed 27,000 civies.

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Viet Cong Resilience

Refused to give up.

Relied upon supplies from the Ho Chi Minh trail. Even when US and SV bombed it constantly but 40,000 NV worked to keep it open.

Viet Cong and NV dead= 1 million approx.

Ho Chi Minh did not care more troops to replace fallen

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US Mass Bombing

7th February  1965 operation rolling thunder was launched. An extensive bombing on military and industrial targets. Lasted till 1972.

Was effective in

  • Damaged NV war effort and disrupted supply routes 
  • Strike NV forces while US forces were leaving
  • 1970-72 bombed Hanoi this brought NV to the negotating table.

NV shot down 14,000 US and SV planes.

Life magazine calculated that it cost 400,000 dollars to kill one Viet Cong fighter including 75 bombs and 400 artillry shells.

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Chemical weapons

The US created Agent Orange it was a highly toxic 'weed killer'.

Used to destroy jungle and most things.

The US used 82 million litres of Agent Orange.

Dropped 100 million pounds worth of defoliants in 30,000 missions.

Wiped out 4 million acres of forest and affected 1.3 million people.

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Burned through the skin to the bone.

20,000 tons used between 1965-73.

Many civies and soldiers killed by it.

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Search and Destroy

General Westmoreland created to search and destroy.

Used bases in SV from there they launched from helicopters to a village and destroyed Viet Cong forces found. Had to send body counts back.

S and D did kill VC soldiers but:

  • Based on inadequate info
  • inexperienced troops set booby traps off
  • innocent villages mistaken for VC soldiers
  • High civie casualty rate (every VC captured 6 people died)
  • S and D did not win hearts and minds of people.
  • Could lead to a Zippo raid (destroy everything)
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Political problems for US

Had huge advantages in tech and firepower. though limited in one respect, could not enter NV, Laos or Cambodia.

This gave NV and VC a huge advantage. They were able to retreat and resupply at these countries. Also used for Ho Chi Minh trail.

The US did unofficial attacks but could not use full force.

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Troops and Officers

Early stages of war troops were professionals who volunteered. Morale was good and were good in the conditions. However, after 1967 most troops were drafted and were young/inexperienced. Cared little for the war just wanted to go home.

As the war went on troop quality declined. 

500,000 incidents of desertion. 60% of killed troops were aged 17-21

Officers were pro soldiers, wanting to gain promotions. to get a promotion you had to kill as many people as possible.

This led to the troops 'fragging' their own officers.

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Hearts and Minds

**** troops, low morale and VC tactics created situations that resulted in atrocities to civies.

Early on in the war, LBJ talked about winning the hearts and minds in V.

Mentioned this between 1964-68 in 28 speeches. 

Also, US tactics based on Attrition this led to high civie casualties. Led to V people supporting VC. This concerned people in the US.

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My Lai

Killed 400 civies approx.

 News kept quite. My Lai was a success with 90 VC killed. One US casualty caused by himself shooting his foot.

November 1969-18 months later-press found out about this. The trial of Lietunate William Gally shocked America. He was sentenced to life for killing 22 civies. Clear evidence the war was going wrong. many refused to believe this.

November 1969 almost 700,000 anti-war protesters outside of Washington DC. Largest political protest in American history.

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The Tet Offensive

In 1968 during the Tet new year, VC fighter attacked over 100 cities/military targets. One commando unit to capture US embassy. The US had to fight room by room to recapture. 4,500 tied down US and SV forces in Saigon for 2 days.

VC and NV hoped SV people would help but they did not. VC lost 10,000 troops weakened them badly.

Tet offensive was a turning point in the war:

  • Nearly 500,000 troops in V and US were spending 20 billion a year on the war
  • Many civies killed and the ancient city of Hue was destroyed
  • CBS journalist Walter Cronkite asked 'what the hell was is going on? I thought we were winning this war'.
  • VC held the city of Hue for 25 days
  • VC recruits now mainly came from NV instead of SV
  • 5 US marines died protecting US embassy
  • Casualties US=1500,SV=2800,VC=45,000(DEATHS) 170,000 casualties.
  • In Hue, VC killed 3000 V people suspected of supporting SV gov
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The importance of media

The V war was covered by the media more than any other war. Television brought the war to home and to what was happening.

In the early stages of the war, the media followed the correct line of policy. 'Get on team' the army said to the media when US helicopters were shot down at Ap Bae in 1963. When the war escalated the media stayed on side.

The US created MACV (military assistance command Vietnam) meant they had access to all areas thou only to report good things. Between 1964-68 only three reporters had MACV removed.

1967-68 the media changed and TV became the source of news. 1965 CBS showed Zippo raids and the Tet offensive of 1968 saw police chief Colonel Nguyen execute a VC suspect.

Famous reporter of CBS Walter Cronkite was the 'most trusted reporter' thought the war unwinnable when reporting on Tet offensive.

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Richard Nixon (tricky dicky)

  • Born 1913,California
  • Graduated in law in 1937, served in the US Navy in WW2
  • Politician in 1946 onwards
  • Vice President under Eisenhower 1953-60
  • President in 1969
  • Succes in foreign policy
  • Domestic activities dominated by Watergate scandal
  • Resigned in 1974
  • Died1994
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Impact of the media coverage

President Johnson remarked if he had lost the support of Walter Cronkite he lost middle America. General Sharp and Westmoreland claimed media undermined the war effort. 

Opponents argued that media did not

  • US attitude to the war changed by 1967, the media reflected this but did not create this
  • Casualties and war weariness was why support for lost had lost.
  • Shocking scenes of the war on tv were rare. Less than 25% of reports showed death or injury on tv
  • From 1965-70 only 76 out of 2300 TV reports showed heavy fighting. Of 800 broadcast only 16% criticised government policy by Journalist rest by the public.


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Anti-war protest movement

1968 saw protest on a wide range of issues such as free speech in uni, civil rights and conditions for the poor.

When LBJ was elected in 1964 he wanted a 'greats society'. But the cost of the war stopped this.

In 1968 Martin Luther King widened his campaign to include poverty. He criticised the war and how it was fought.

Vietnam was also linked to race. Few AF AMS  could dodge the draft. As a result, 30% of AF AMS vs  19% of whites were drafted. Also 22% of casualties where black even though 11% of US forces were black. 

Muhhamed Ali refused to obey the draft on the grounds of his Muslim Faith. He was part of the Nation of Islam.

Some AF AMS pointed out 'the VC never called us ******'.

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Student Protest

Many thought that instead of a US crusade against communism it was a defeat, confusion and moral corruption.

Student taunted LBJ with 'hey hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today?'.

Anti-war protest movement reached its height between 1968-70. The first half of 1968 over 100 demonstrations against V war involved 40,000 students. 

The protesters would burn the American flag-criminal offence- shows rejection of America values.

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Kent State

Anti-war demonstrations ended with violence with police.

At Berkeley, Yale and Stanford universities bombs went off.

The worst incident in 1970, Kent State in Ohio organised a protest against Nixons decision to invade Cambodia. National Guard opened fire and killed 4 students and injured 11. Press in US and world horrified. 400, colleges closed due to 2 million students on strike.

SDS (students for a democratic society) was formed.

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Watergate Incident

Watergate is a large office complex in Washington D.C, it was the Democratic campaign headquarters. In June 1972 5 men were caught by the police attempting to place bugging devices. they were Republicans working for CREEP (campaign to re-elect the president). The democratic leadership protested; Republicans said they knew nothing. Nixon won the election by a landslide.

Later it emerged Nixon was recording every conversation in the oval office- for his memoirs. Nixon refused to hand over tapes until forced to by the supreme court, discovered bits were missing from tapes. Experts decide it was intentional. 

Nixon was threatened with Impeachment so here resigned in August 1974.

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