Lesson Objectives Understand the goals, provisions and consequences of President Nixon's Vietnamization policy. Describe the efforts of President Nixon to change global strategic alignments and the implications of his initiatives. Describe and analyze changes in the military situation in Vietnam from 1969 to 1973. Describe and assess the impact of US political developments from 1969 through 1975.
Major Issues What was the impact of the Cambodian Incursion on the US domestic situation? What was Vietnamization? What was Lam Son 719? How did Lam Son 719 reflect on the Vietnamization effort? Specifically, how did Congress react to the Cambodian incursion? What were the results of the Easter (Spring) Offensive of 1972? What action did the US take as a result of the Easter (Spring) Offensive of 1972? What was Linebacker II and what was its objective?
Buildup In Vietnam Why was our buildup in Vietnam so slow? Gradual escalation? Vietnam: 1964 - 1968 Gulf War: Aug 1990 - Jan-Mar 1991 Lack of infrastructure? Probably a little of each! Fear of Soviet or Chinese intervention?
Strategy of Revolutionary War 1954-1965: Phase I (guerrilla warfare) 1961-1965: Heated Politburo debate on transition 1965-1967: Phase II (guerrilla & conventional warfare) Increased large unit actions (Ia Drang, Khe Sanh) Tactical Victory 1968 (early): Phase III (Tet Offensive) (conventional warfare) Military disaster (VC destroyed) “General Uprising” did not occur Strategic victory for the Communists none the less, Strategic Defeat Tet 68 for U.S
Vietnamization During 1968 presidential campaign, Nixon pledged to have a secret plan for ending the Vietnam War Initiated a plan to increase the size and effectiveness of South Vietnamese forces while drawing down size of US military role in that country.
Vietnamization President Nixon gave major speech on Vietnamization policy November 3, 1969 TextVideo 32:24Silent Majority Vietnamization begins 14:00
Cambodian Incursion 29 April - 22 July 1970 Results: Casualties : US: 338 KIA ARVN: 809 KIA NVA: 12,000+ KIA (estimated) Huge stocks of NVA weapons, ammo, food captured US Domestic: Widespread protest in US, particularly on college campuses Congress took first action to limit US involvement in SEA Cooper-Church Amendment
Congress and the War Use of Budget to Restrict Operations in SEA Cooper-Church Amendment (1970) Sponsored by Sen. John Cooper (R-KY) & Sen. Frank Church (S-ID) Reaction to US-led invasion of Cambodia (April 1970) Prohibited use of US troops in Cambodia after June 30, 1970 Approved by Senate 58-37 on June 30, 1970, after troops US withdrew House approved watered-down version December 1970 Significance: First time Congress had restricted the deployment of US troops in wartime
US Strategy in Vietnam JCS Proposal 1965 Build a Korean-war style defensive line across DMZ Conduct operations into Laos to permanently cut supply lines (Ho Chi Minh Trail) Proposed by Westmoreland in 1967, again in 1968 Never approved or rejected by LBJ, SecDef Summers Review In 1971, President Nixon approved the plan
Lam Son 719 Before one draws any comparisons between the Laos operations and airmobile operations conducted by the U. S. Army, it must be realized that LAMSON 719 was a very special operation in which strict rules governed U. S. military operations across the Laotian border. Lieutenant General John J. Tolson, USA Airmobility 1961-1971, p. 236 Vietnam Studies series, CMH Pub 90-4 Washington: Department of the Army, 1989 8 February - 25 March 1971 Attempt to cut Ho Chi Minh Trail While the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces could operate freely on the ground and in the air within Laos, U. S. Forces were restricted to air operations under specific rules of engagement and were prohibited from fighting on the ground.
Lam Son 719 8 February - 25 March 1971 Objective:Tchepone & Base Area 604 Concept of Operations: US provided: logistic support to border, air support in Laos
Lam Son 719 8 February - 25 March 1971 Results: Casualties : US: 215 KIA ARVN: 1,500-3,500 KIA * NVA: 2,000 KIA (estimated) Some NVA weapons, ammo, food captured * ARVN reports vary ARVN did not perform well in face of stiff NVA resistance Poor planning and execution by ARVN leadership Generally regarded as indicating a failure of Vietnamization
Update on Vietnam Address - April 1971 Part 2 - 10:39
Easter (Spring) Offensive March 30 - October 22, 1972
Easter (Spring) Offensive March 30 - October 22, 1972
Easter (Spring) Offensive March 30 - October 22, 1972 ARVN performed reasonably well with US air support DRV gained valuable space inside RVN for future offensives Major conventional invasion on three fronts: Across DMZ Central Highlands West of Saigon Also gained bargaining chip in negotiations Nixon began planning for Linebacker II Nixon initiated Operation Linebacker (May 9 - October 23, 1972) Bombing of North Vietnamese logistics targets Sustained bombing of North Vietnamese strategic targets
Paris Peace Accords January 23, 1973 Henry Kissinger (left) and Le Duc Tho initial agreement
Paris Peace Accords January 23, 1973 Major Provisions: US troops would leave Vietnam by 1973 North Vietnamese troops would remain in South South Vietnamese government would remain
Congress and the War Use of Budget to Restrict Operations in SEA Case-Church Amendment (1973) After Paris Peace Accords (Jan 1973), Nixon hinted at US intervention if North Vietnam attacked South Introduced by Senators Clifford Case (R ‐ NJ) & Frank Church (D ‐ ID) Prohibited U.S. military activity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia after August 15, 1973 without Congressional approval. Passed by Senate 64-26, House 278-124 (June 1973) Significance: Essentially ended US military activity in Southeast Asia
Nixon Resigns August 9, 1974 President Gerald Ford
Final Offensive DRV planned final offensive for 1976 Encouraged, DVR ordered additional probes in 1975 DRV politburo again astonished by speed of success Ordered push to Pleiku and on to coast RVN President Thieu ordered strategic retreat Gave up northern provinces to protect Saigon and south ARVN retreat turned into a rout
The Final Days - 1975 Hué Fell March 25 Da Nang Fell March 30 II Corps Fell April 2 Pleiku Abandoned March 16
Last Flight From Danang March 29, 1975 ( 4:59 )
US Evacuation of Saigon Early plans had identified: 8,000 US and third country citizens for evacuation Number of potential South Vietnamese evacuees never determined Estimate: 17,000 US employee + 6 family members = > ~120,000 evacuees Late March 1975: Evacuations by commercial aircraft began Last fixed-wing transport (C-130) left Tan San Nhut airport 29 April Later estimates went as high as 200,000! Contingency plans always existed for evacuation of US citizens Also included “At risk” Vietnamese citizens “At Risk” = US employees and agents
Operation Frequent Wind April 29-30, 1975 Final helicopter evacuation of US citizens and others Pickup points at Tan San Nhut airport and US Embassy Air America (CIA-run airline) also committed 24 helicopters US Marine helicopters operated from off-shore ships USAF helicopters from Thailand shuttled to ships
Operation Frequent Wind April 29-30, 1975 Helicopter operations from Saigon progressed smoothly
Operation Frequent Wind April 29-30, 1975 April 30, 1975 - 7:53 AM Last US Marine helicopter lifted off the roof of the US Embassy
Evacuation of Saigon Iconic image: “Evacuation from the U.S. Embassy roof”
Evacuation of Saigon Pittman Apartment building used by CIA staff (top of elevator shaft - not a heliport) Story
Operation Frequent Wind April 29-30, 1975 Meanwhile, as South Vietnam forces crumbled … …scores of VNAF officers commandeered aircraft and headed to Thailand or the US fleet offshore. Created desk space problem on aircraft carrier USS Midway Scenes Ditching
Operation Frequent Wind VNAF Major Ly Buang, wife, five children arrive on USS Midway
Operation Frequent Wind USS Midway after stop in Thailand to retrieve fixed wing aircraft Major Ly Buang’s O-1 aircraft