Operation rolling thunder

operation rolling thunder 

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  • Created by: mariamme
  • Created on: 18-05-12 19:50

Operation rolling thunder

  • Feb 1965 VC attack US air base at Pleiku, strategic strongpoint SV. Killed 9 soldiers, wounded more than 120. Sparked bombing campaign 
  • Feb 1965 escalation-operation rolling thunder- systematic bombing routes supplying VC from north. Air strikes begin Ho Chi Minh trail through Laos
  • meant end war quickly and cheaply avoid deploying alot of land forces. More bombing in the South than North, and targets mainly agricultural therfore not much effect on NLF, China and USSR quickly replace damaged equipment
  • Supply to VC in south increase during campaign, soviet fighters help north shoot down more than 700 planes 
  • McNamara advised Johnson send significant number troops, George bell warned would lead to defeat
  • March 1965 3500 marines to Vietnam, requested by Westmoreland  protect bomber base Danang
  • Later March, VC bomb US embassy. May VC overan ARVN troops North Saigon 
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  • Johson kept campaign away from Hanoi and Haiphong, focused communication and ports
  • Targets main routes taking men and materials to South
  • North air raid precautions very organised, 2 million members  'shock brigades' repaired damage caused to roads and railways 
  • Not much intitial success, and deteriating situation south, large increase air attacks on NV. Killed estimated 50,000 people in North 
  • Congress grant $700 million for military operations, end May 99,000 US soldiers in Vietnam 
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  • By June 1965 SV priminister Ky, both Thieu and Ky unpopular and inept
  • US opinion polls 1965 showed american public behind Johnso, McNamara thought victory unlikely, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor opposed escalation
  • Taylor replaced by Henry Cabot Lodge in July 1965
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Westmorelands military strategies

  • Air attacks, search and destroy missions- used ARVN troops and US forces with air support
  • 'free bombing zones' - rockets, bombs and napalm could be dropped indiscriminately. Operation ranch hand- herbicides used strip 3 million acres vegetation using Agent Orange. Chemicals later found to cause cancer and other health problems
  • Helicopters airlifted victorious troops away from the battlefield, allowing VC to recover areas won
  • VC followed Mao's army code , carrying out land reforms where they gained control
  • In comparison US did try to set up schools and improve land holding in areas pacified, US viewed military victory as the only solution to Vietnam problem
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  • American troops not suited to jungle terrain, climate or guerilla tactics
  • No measurable success from search and destroy tactics
  • Impossible distinguish VC dead from innocent civilians. Led to distorting statistics 'if they were dead, they were VC'
  • Alienated civilian population
  • Jan 1967 Operation cedar falls focused on NLF stronghold Iron triangle outside Saigon
  • surrounding villages and jungle vegetation cleared, underground tunnels flattened, never any clear territorial gains. High level desertion ARVN troops
  • US troops drawn into inconclusive battles in rural areas allowing PLAF win control of the cities
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