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The U.S. in Vietnam Part II. William C. Westmoreland William C. Westmoreland Maxwell Taylor Maxwell Taylor.

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Presentation on theme: "The U.S. in Vietnam Part II. William C. Westmoreland William C. Westmoreland Maxwell Taylor Maxwell Taylor."— Presentation transcript:

1 The U.S. in Vietnam Part II

2 William C. Westmoreland William C. Westmoreland Maxwell Taylor Maxwell Taylor

3 U.S. troops in Vietnam 1964, year end:24, , year end:24, , year end:184, , year end:184, , year end:385, , year end:385, , year end:490, , year end:490,000 Total troop strength will exceed 500,000 in Total troop strength will exceed 500,000 in 1968.

4 Aspects of the build-up LBJ: did not call out the reserves or the National Guard. LBJ: did not call out the reserves or the National Guard. Army had to rely upon volunteers and draftees to meet personnel needs. Army had to rely upon volunteers and draftees to meet personnel needs. Field forces in Vietnam: about half volunteer, half drafted. Field forces in Vietnam: about half volunteer, half drafted. Manpower issues complicated by one-year tours of duty Manpower issues complicated by one-year tours of duty Issues of class and race? Issues of class and race?

5 Limiting the War: Army: not allowed to attack NVA bases on Cambodia, Laos, or north of DMZ. Army: not allowed to attack NVA bases on Cambodia, Laos, or north of DMZ. Air Force/Navy: Target and engagement restrictions placed on Rolling Thunder. Air Force/Navy: Target and engagement restrictions placed on Rolling Thunder. LBJ – does not impose any economic constraints. LBJ – does not impose any economic constraints.

6 Regions: Northern provinces Northern provinces Central highlights & coast Central highlights & coast Northwest of Saigon Northwest of Saigon Mekong River delta Mekong River delta

7 U.S. strategy: U.S. combat forces given primary responsibility for locating & eliminating large NVA/VC units. U.S. combat forces given primary responsibility for locating & eliminating large NVA/VC units. GVN + various U.S. civil and military agencies pursue pacification effort. GVN + various U.S. civil and military agencies pursue pacification effort. Air Force & Navy maintain bombing of North Vietnam (Rolling Thunder). Air Force & Navy maintain bombing of North Vietnam (Rolling Thunder).

8 Westmorelands plan First defend South Vietnam, defeat Communist offensives, secure bases for additional troops. First defend South Vietnam, defeat Communist offensives, secure bases for additional troops. Then launch offensives to destroy enemy units. Then launch offensives to destroy enemy units. Ultimately hoped to attack Communist sanctuaries, shift effort of U.S. troops to pacification. Ultimately hoped to attack Communist sanctuaries, shift effort of U.S. troops to pacification.

9 U.S. combat operations Unpopulated areas: Search & destroy operations relied upon helicopter mobility and superior artillery and air support. Unpopulated areas: Search & destroy operations relied upon helicopter mobility and superior artillery and air support. Populated areas: U.S. troops employed patrols and helped provide security for roads and villages. Populated areas: U.S. troops employed patrols and helped provide security for roads and villages.

10 Air Support Helicopter gunships Helicopter gunships Air Force/Marine sorties with high explosives or napalm. Air Force/Marine sorties with high explosives or napalm. Operation ARC LIGHT Operation ARC LIGHT

11 Ia Drang, November 1965 First large engagement between U.S and NVA troops. First large engagement between U.S and NVA troops. 7 th Cavalry prevails, but takes high casualties. 7 th Cavalry prevails, but takes high casualties. Demonstrates effectiveness of: Demonstrates effectiveness of: U.S. air support U.S. air support NVA/VC close infantry tactics. NVA/VC close infantry tactics.

12 Pacification Marines: pursue combined action program. Marines: pursue combined action program. Elsewhere MACV relies upon GVN efforts. Elsewhere MACV relies upon GVN efforts. U.S. assistance complicated by bureaucratic confusion. U.S. assistance complicated by bureaucratic confusion. 1967: U.S. aid efforts centralized under the Office of Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS). 1967: U.S. aid efforts centralized under the Office of Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS). Launched OPERATION Phoenix to eliminate, capture, or co-opt VC cadres. Launched OPERATION Phoenix to eliminate, capture, or co-opt VC cadres.

13 Restrictions on Rolling Thunder

14 Problems bombing the DRV Objectives. Objectives. Effectiveness? Effectiveness? Subsistence–level economy. Subsistence–level economy. DRV has manpower to operate air defenses and repair bombing damage. DRV has manpower to operate air defenses and repair bombing damage. DRV able to maintain flow of supplies and men to support operations in the South. DRV able to maintain flow of supplies and men to support operations in the South. Cost? Cost? 900 aircraft and >1,000 crewman lost Rolling Thunder to aircraft and >1,000 crewman lost Rolling Thunder to $10 of expense to inflict $1 damage? $10 of expense to inflict $1 damage?

15 Assessment of U.S. efforts : Positives South Vietnam defended (still exists). South Vietnam defended (still exists). More stable GVN: More stable GVN: Nguyen Van Thieu and Nguyen Cao Ky come to power in Nguyen Van Thieu and Nguyen Cao Ky come to power in NVA on defensive. NVA on defensive. VC insurgency checked. VC insurgency checked.

16 Assessment of U.S. efforts : Negatives NVA able to raise troop levels, resulting in escalating U.S. forces. NVA able to raise troop levels, resulting in escalating U.S. forces. Pacification: Pacification: Ties of rural population to GVN still tenuous. Ties of rural population to GVN still tenuous. VC organization still functioning. VC organization still functioning. Large displacement of rural population. Large displacement of rural population.

17 Communists develop a plan: General Offensive – General Uprising NVA to first launch attacks in central highlands & near DMZ area to draw off U.S. reserve troops. NVA to first launch attacks in central highlands & near DMZ area to draw off U.S. reserve troops. VC cadres to infiltrate towns and cities & capture GVN/ARVN installations, which would precipitate a general revolt. VC cadres to infiltrate towns and cities & capture GVN/ARVN installations, which would precipitate a general revolt. U.S. posts to be assaulted to sow confusion, & for psychological effect. U.S. posts to be assaulted to sow confusion, & for psychological effect. NVA units to reinforce VC forces & liberated citizens in urban areas. NVA units to reinforce VC forces & liberated citizens in urban areas.

18 The Siege of Khe Sanh Isolated U.S. base near DMZ surrounded. Isolated U.S. base near DMZ surrounded. NVA attacks began January 21, NVA attacks began January 21, Lasted 77 days Lasted 77 days

19 The Tet Offensive Began January 30, Began January 30, Violence erupts in more than 200 villages, towns & cities. Violence erupts in more than 200 villages, towns & cities. About 80,000 Communist troops participated. About 80,000 Communist troops participated.

20 Tet: Communist military defeat No urban uprisings occurred. No urban uprisings occurred. U.S. and ARVN troops prevailed in urban battles. U.S. and ARVN troops prevailed in urban battles. NVA reinforcements checked by air strikes and counterattacks. NVA reinforcements checked by air strikes and counterattacks. Of 80,000 men, Communists lost half (including numerous VC cadres). Of 80,000 men, Communists lost half (including numerous VC cadres).

21 Tet: Communist political victory Tet destroyed LBJs will to continue the conflict. Tet destroyed LBJs will to continue the conflict. Also shocked in the U.S. public, greatly expanded popular disaffection with the war. Also shocked in the U.S. public, greatly expanded popular disaffection with the war.

22 The U.S. domestic scene Growing anti-war movement. Growing anti-war movement. Sympathetic coverage by news media. Sympathetic coverage by news media. How mainstream? How mainstream?

23 LBJ after Tet Sends another 20,000 troops to Vietnam, but rejects Westmorelands request for 206,000. Sends another 20,000 troops to Vietnam, but rejects Westmorelands request for 206,000. Authorized a limited call-up of reserves. Authorized a limited call-up of reserves. Announced on March 31, 1968: Announced on March 31, 1968: Would stop Rolling Thunder Would stop Rolling Thunder Would seek talks to end the war (no preconditions). Would seek talks to end the war (no preconditions). Would not seek re-election. Would not seek re-election.


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