You are on page 1of 5

The Vietnam War.

Written by Rachel Wilkinson.

How The Americans Got Invovled.
In 1949, the Chinese Communist forces had won the civil war in china, and so was expected a domino theory through Asia of communism. The Americans had feared a spread of communism, like a few of the other countries that were involved in the beforehand wars. They had feared that the Communist forces would spread throughout all of Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand etc.). France had pulled out in 1955-56, and so the US felt they needed to stop Ho Chi Minh from unifying Vietnam under the Communist rule - the 1956 peace accords with France had divided Vietnam in half. Beginning in 1955, the U.S. had started sending assistance and military into Vietnam to assist the South Vietnamese Army. The conflict had continued more and more and this meant that more of the countryside had been acquired by Communist rebels in the South. This had meant that more U.S. assistance was required and more equipment was needed. The U.S. had given help to them by flying food and military over. They also gave them machines like the tank, money for different equipment and men to fight with them on their side. This was the same with the Second World War, as the U.S gave these things to Britain and France. The Americans also used parachutes, which was different to the Second World War, and three times the amount of bombs dropped in the Second World War were dropped in the Vietnam War, which meant they were producing more, and the war was a lot more aggressive.

New Tactics.
The Americans had a tactic called the ‘tippy-toe tactic’ which was to silently move around through terrain without the enemy side knowing about it. This meant it would be a sneak attack. However, this was fairly difficult for the Americans as they were using tanks some of the time. This made it difficult for them because you could hear them coming, so it wasn’t really silent. The Vietnamese Army had a tactic in Guerilla warfare. They used bunkers underground to hide out from the enemy. Although this seemed like an easy way to attack them, by throwing a grenade in and killing them in a ‘dead end’, the bunkers had many more levels to them than the U.S. had thought. In one case, the Americans had ‘tried’ to negotiate with the Vietcong, and in no response had sent someone to interpret them. This man than been killed and so they used a grenade to get them to come out, after realizing that there was no one to be found in the place, they noticed the lower levels to the bunker and so this is an advantage to the Vietcong. One of the most important tactics that the Americans had used was ‘Vertical Envelopment’, which relied upon the heavy use of helicopters transporting troops and weapons into battle very quickly, which meant they could quickly arrive anywhere the enemy had shown up. The U.S. had also employed the ‘Mike Force Units’. These included combined Marine rifle companies with Civilian Irregular Defense Forces, which were a group of civilians that had been armed and trained by the Marines who operated in securing and defending isolated villages. Another tactic used by the U.S. was using fertilizer on the terrain in the jungles. This was an advantage to them as the trees would ‘grow themselves to death’, so it would make it a lot easier to see the enemy, instead of letting them hide.

The Tet Offensive.
This was a huge North Vietnamese/Vietcong offensive, which was aimed at attacking throughout the South of Vietnam at a weak time and at a low state of readiness – when the Tet celebrations were at hand. A cease-fire was used for three days (January 29th to January 31st 1968) to mark the national holiday of the Tet. For this to happen, most of the Vietnamese units were at rest, with most of their troops home. The holiday was a declared cease-fire and no action was expected at all. The U.s. and South-East Asian were ready to end the war at their peak. The Northern planners in Vietnam were expecting the South to surrender and overthrow the Republic of Vietnam, so the Tet was a very sneakily good way of trying to do this. It did, in a way, catch the SV off guard and cause much confusion and chaos, but the U.S. and ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) fought well enough and it was a military defeat for the NVA and VC. The VC were very effectively wiped out as an effective auxiliary field force during the Tet, and never really recovered. The U.S., however, had suffered a near fatal blow to their reputation, as they had claimed to be winning the war against the NVA and VC. To be caught off guard by a very daring and complex attack, it had made most of the men question what they were claiming and why. It also made them ask whether the cost of the war, in lives mostly and in rewards, was worth it or not.

The American Difficulties.
The Americans had suffered through a few critical difficulties against the Vietcong. One of the main difficulties they had to endure was the weather. Vietnam is a very wet and was made up from a long of heavy jungles – so the terrain wasn’t much easier to endure. This made the army slower, and the weather could have caused illnesses for them. Their gear and equipment was also built towards using in more large conventional wars in Europe, rather than heavy-terrained areas, like such. Another difficulty was the self-imposed limitation of the scope of the war. Because of the diplomatic situation that surrounded Vietnam, and the U.S. effort not being legally a war, they were not allowed to invade the North of Vietnam, attack any international ships delivering war goods there, or openly pursue any of the North Vietnamese forces into neighboring countries. The training towards Guerilla warfare was also a disadvantage to their side. They hadn’t been trained and organized properly to fight in the NVA and VC’s type of warfare, which was underground and very largely used.