Presentation on theme: "Vietnam: The Big War and the Vietnam Syndrome Lsn 23."— Presentation transcript:
Vietnam: The Big War and the Vietnam Syndrome Lsn 23
ID & SIG Abrams, Cambodia, Cronkite, Johnson, Operation Junction City, Kent State, search and destroy, Tet Offensive, Vietnam Syndrome, Vietnamization
Search and Destroy North Vietnamese –Settled in for protracted struggle –Retreated to sanctuaries –Fought only when it was to their advantage to do so –Targeted US will and South Vietnamese weakness US –Concentrated on large-scale search and destroy missions against enemy base areas –“To find and smash each [enemy base camp], one by one, is an essential task, a prime object in conclusively successful campaigning.” (DA Pam , 1967) –Often meant massive bombing followed by ground troops surrounding the area and helicopter-borne troops flying it to clear it
Search and Destroy Search and destroy operations were designed to “find, fix, flush, and finish” the enemy They came to represent the US trying to fight the “Big War” with large units stomping through the jungle trying to find illusive small guerrilla groups who would fight only on their own terms
Search and Destroy: Junction City Feb 22 to May 14, 1967 Largest operation in Vietnam to date Primary mission was to search for and then destroy the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN) and Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army installations
Junction City: Phase 1 Phase I began on 22 February with five U.S. brigades forming a horseshoe shaped cordon in the western half of War Zone C. –25th Division would block on the west along the Cambodian border –1st Infantry Division (with the 173rd Brigade attached) would block along the border on the north and on the east along Provincial Route 4
Junction City: Phase 1 One task force of the 173 rd Bde conducted an airborne assault and two other battalions assaulted by helicopter to seal off the Cambodian border
Junction City: Phase 1 On D plus 1 a brigade of the 25th Division and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (attached to the 25th), which had positioned themselves on the southern edge of the horseshoe the previous day, attacked north into the horseshoe. The horseshoe forces conducted search and destroy operations in their areas.
Junction City: Phase 1 Simultaneous with the search, a Special Forces and Civilian Irregular Defense Group camp near Prek Klok was established for future interdiction of enemy supply and infiltration routes in War Zone C. An airstrip capable of handling C-130's would be constructed at the camp and a second similar airfield would be constructed in the vicinity of Katum. These facilities would facilitate future operations in the area.
Junction City: Phase 1 During the operation, particular attention was devoted to searching suspected locations of the political and military elements of the Central Office of South Vietnam. A thorough interrogation of all persons apprehended was conducted. Stars and Stripes photograph of a 1 st Infantry Div soldier in the entrance of a tunnel leading to a VC headquarters during Operation Junction City.
Junction City: Phase 2 During Phase 2, II Field Force elements focused their attention on the eastern portion of War Zone C, conducting search and destroy operations against COSVN, Viet Cong, and North Vietnamese forces and installations. –The Saigon River was bridged at its intersection with Route 246 west of An Loc. –At that site the Special Forces and Civilian Irregular Defense Group camp with an airstrip for C-130s was built.
Junction City: Phase 3 In Phase 3, Junction City was reduced to a brigade-size operation in the vicinity of Tay Ninh city in the southern portion of War Zone C The operational control for this phase was passed from II Field Force to the 25th Infantry Division CPT George Joulwan shows LTC Alexander Haig radios and other material found during Operation Junction City
Junction City: Results North Vietnamese –2,728 enemy killed and 34 prisoners taken. –139 Chieu Hoi ralliers and 65 detainees –100 crew-served weapons, 491 individual weapons, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, grenades, and mines captured –More than 5,000 bunkers and military structures were destroyed –Over 810 tons of rice and nearly 40 tons of other food-stuffs such as salt and dried fish were uncovered –Nearly one-half million pages of assorted documents were taken
Junction City: Results US –282 killed and 1,576 wounded –3 tanks, 21 armored personnel carriers, 12 trucks, 4 helicopters, 5 howitzers, and 2 quad-.50 machine guns and carriers destroyed But the objective of destroying the COSVN forces was not met
Reasons for COSVN Escape The proximity of a privileged sanctuary to the reported locations of COSVN and Headquarters, 9th VC Division. The extreme difficulty of establishing a seal with sufficient troop density to deny infiltration routes to VC units thoroughly familiar with the dense jungle terrain. The difficulty of gaining complete surprise, as a result of extensive repositioning of troops and logistical support prior to D-Day, in spite of the efforts devoted to deception measures. –Major General John Hay, CG 1 st Infantry Division
Junction City The official Army history concludes “JUNCTION CITY convinced the enemy command that continuing to base main force units in close proximity to the key population areas would be increasingly foolhardy. From that time on the enemy made increasing use of Cambodian sanctuaries for his bases, hospitals, training centers, and supply depots….A turning point in the war had been reached.” –Vietnam Studies: Cedar Falls- Junction City: A Turning Point, Rogers, President Nixon during a press conference on operations in Cambodia in 1970.
Lessons: Intelligence Initial intelligence was very accurate with regard to both locations and activities 40% of the enemy was found within 500 meters of their predicted sites Proved the value of pattern activity analysis.
Tet Offensive On January 30, 1968, the North Vietnamese escalated to Phase III, the War of Movement Attack gained surprise by coinciding with the Vietnamese lunar new year holiday Designed to foster antigovernment uprisings against the South Vietnamese
Tet Offensive 84,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese attacked 36 of 43 provincial capitals, 5 of 6 autonomous cities, 34 of 242 district capitals, and at least 50 hamlets
Reasons for North Vietnam’s Lack of Tactical Success in Tet By attacking everywhere, the North Vietnamese had superior strength nowhere (violation of mass) Inflexible Viet Cong command and control system could not respond to late announcements of timings and objectives from the North Vietnamese Army (unity of command) North Vietnamese wrongly assumed South Vietnamese were on the verge of a general uprising (objective) Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of the director of the South Vietnamese national police executing a VC prisoner in Saigon during Tet
Reasons for the U.S. Tactical Success in Tet Technology gave the US a strategic mobility that allowed it to respond to multiple threats (maneuver) When the North Vietnamese came out and fought en masse in a traditional war of movement, the US could bring to bear its overwhelming firepower in a strategy of annihilation (mass) Helicopters gave the US the ability to cover all types of terrain, maneuver over large areas, react quickly to enemy attacks, reinforce embattled units, and conduct raids into enemy territory
Back to Insurgency Phase II Previously complacent South Vietnamese population was for the first time made to feel involved in the war effort Local insurgency movement suffered a devastating loss when it surfaced to assume leadership of a general uprising that never materialized Clandestine shadow government, years in the building, was largely destroyed Tactical military defeat for North Vietnam By coming into the open, the enemy had exposed itself to massive American firepower and lost 137,000 killed in the first nine months of 1968 Allowed US to practice “the American way of war”
Overall Results of Tet Tactical defeat for North Vietnam North Vietnamese 32,000 killed and 6,000 captured US and South Vietnamese 4,000 killed But a strategic victory “I thought we were winning this war!” (Walter Cronkite) Dramatic shift in public opinion in US Returning from Vietnam after Tet, Walter Cronkite reported, “It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is a stalemate” and then urged the government to open negotiations with the North Vietnamese.
Societal Changes Country Joe McDonald at Woodstock, 1969 Martin Luther King delivers his “I have a dream” speech in 1963 Gloria Steinem helped found Ms magazine in 1971
President Johnson President Lyndon B. Johnson listens to tape sent by Captain Charles Robb from Vietnam, July 31, Democratic delegates protest the Johnson Administration’s policies in Vietnam at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
President Nixon Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968 campaigning for “peace with honor” Under Nixon the process of “Vietnamization”– the gradual transfer of primary responsibility of the war to the South Vietnamese that Johnson had begun on a small scale after Tet– was accelerated Nixon’s involvement in Watergate, his impeachment, and resignation hamstrung his ability to influence peace negotiations through sustained offensive operations Nixon was succeeded by Gerald Ford. By this point the US was traumatized by war-weariness and economic recession. Ford had almost no maneuver room to help the South Vietnamese.
My Lai On March 16, 1968, an infantry company entered the village of My Lai They found no insurgents but, being psychologically prepared for battle and poorly disciplined, they proceeded to kill between 347 and 504 mostly old men, women, and children Word of the massacre did not reach the American public until November 1969 when it then fueled national outrage and further undermined support for the war
Cambodia On April 29, 1970, South Vietnamese troops entered the “Parrot’s Beak” which extends into South Vietnam to within 30 miles of Saigon Three days later American and South Vietnamese forces entered the “Fish Hook,” another promontory further north
Cambodia President Nixon limited the depth of US penetrations to 21 miles and specified that all US forces had to be out of Cambodia within 60 days –In all 31,000 US and 43,000 South Vietnamese troops entered Cambodia The operation was a tactical and operational success –Many communists fled from their sanctuaries and were denied the use of the important port at Sihanoukville –More than 11,000 North Vietnamese were killed compared to only 337 American deaths However, it sparked anti-war protests in the US
Kent State and Jackson State Four students were killed and nine wounded at Kent State on May 4, 1970 and two students were killed at Jackson State during protests against a number of issues to include US operations in Cambodia
Defeat The US concluded a peace agreement with the North Vietnamese in 1973, but the South Vietnamese continued fighting until April 30, 1975 when the North Vietnamese captured Saigon Throughout the 1970s and 1980s “boat people” fled Vietnam –Some 823,000 found refuge in the US Americans and South Vietnamese who had worked for the US are evacuated from Saigon
Legacy and Lessons
Sophisticated weaponry and conventional forces have limits in “low intensity conflict” The restrictive rules of engagement (ROEs) and political considerations of limited war hamper military operations Domestic support is critical You can win the battles and lose the war “Vietnam syndrome” effects military and diplomatic operations until finally exorcised by Desert Storm. –We’ll take about that in the Lesson 38.
Carl von Clausewitz (review from Lsn 2) Used a trinitarian analysis consisting of (1) primordial violence, hatred, and enmity; (2) the play of chance and probability; and (3) war’s element of subordination to rational policy –Often loosely expressed as “the people, the military, and the government” government military people
Vietnam and Clausewitz’s Trinity PeopleMilitaryGovt US North Vietnam
Vietnam and Clausewitz’s Trinity PeopleMilitaryGovt USDiminishing support Conventional and attrition strategy Limited war North Vietnam Long-term commitment Guerrilla and exhaustion strategy Total war
Vietnam Today Vietnam remains communist However, since 2001, it has committed to economic liberalization and is trying to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries An April 28, 2005 article in the Economist was aptly titled “America Lost, Capitalism Won”