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Warrior
31 Jan 11,, 06:14
Vietnam: Looking Back - At The Facts

Updated – 9 May 04 © By: K. G. Sears, Ph.D. - mrken @saigonnet.vn
Information presented here was excerpted from Dr. Sears' dissertation and related research materials.

"The reason America’s agonizing perception of “Vietnam” will not go away, is because that perception is wrong. It’s out of place in the American psyche, and it continues to fester in much the same way battle wounds fester when shrapnel or other foreign matter is left in the body. It is not normal behavior for Americans to idolize mass murdering communist despots, to champion the cause of human oppression, to abandon friends and allies, or to cut and run in the face of adversity. Why then, did so many Americans engage in, or openly support these types of activities during the country’s “Vietnam” experience?

That the American experience in Vietnam was painful and ended in long lasting (albeit self-inflicted) grief and misery can not be disputed. However, the reasons behind that grief and misery are not even remotely understood – by either the American people or their government. Contrary to popular belief, and a whole lot of wishful thinking by a crowd tens of millions strong that’s made up of mostly draft dodgers and their antiwar cronies, along with their families / supporters, it was not a military defeat that brought misfortune to the American effort in Vietnam..."

EDIT: That's all you need. The intro and thesis. If there's an interest, others will read and comment upon it. If not-it dies.

Bigfella
31 Jan 11,, 07:43
Warrior,

I got bored of the dubious assertions & curious conclusions before half way. I will bet back to it & if the mood takes me chew it up some. In the meantime could you please provide us with some comment on the piece & why you posted it. I realise you are new here so you may not realise that this is considered polite behaviour, especially for new posters. Tell us what you think. Kick off a discussion. DOn't leave all the hard work to others, especially with such a huge piece to tackle.

Bigfella
31 Jan 11,, 08:04
OK. Read it all now. Wish I hadn't.

Warrior. Did you read this before you posted it? Please tell me you don't base your opinions on poorly constructed polemic like this. It is just bile interlaced with a few facts & a lot of questionable assertions. If you are serious about Vietnam then talk to me, I'll recommend some books.

Ironduke
04 Feb 11,, 03:47
I would recommend Dereliction of Duty, by HR McMaster. Shek recommended it to me a few years ago, excellent read.

Amazon.com: Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam (9780060929084): H. R. Mcmaster: Books (http://www.amazon.com/Dereliction-Duty-Johnson-McNamara-Vietnam/dp/0060929081/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1296791210&sr=8-1-spell)

avon1944
11 Feb 11,, 05:22
Please tell me that K. G. Sears, Ph.D. works in some think tank or some college/university. This doesn't seem like it came from someone who is out in the real world!

Bigfella
11 Feb 11,, 07:06
Please tell me that K. G. Sears, Ph.D. works in some think tank or some college/university. This doesn't seem like it came from someone who is out in the real world!

It certainly doesn't come from anyone who adheres to the most basic standards of proof or argument.

Sandman
20 Mar 11,, 23:30
It festers and agonizes because it was a defeat snatched out of the jaws of victory. NVA General Vo Ngun GIap admitted he believed they were defeated by what they correctly perceived as a defeat in the failed Tet Offensive. It was only the moral defeat at home in the US, and the perception that Tet was a success, that changed Giap's mind by the self destructive left undermining the war effort. The same useful idiots who shamed our troops and in the end denied our victory by encouraging our enemies.. All those American lives lost fighting that war, and it was fellow Americans who denied us a deserved victory. And even us pulling out would not have ended in the loss of the South if it were not for those traitors in Congress cutting off all support for the South Vietnamese. THAT is why it is a painful cultural memory. In the end we were trying to lose.

Bigfella
21 Mar 11,, 09:39
It festers and agonizes because it was a defeat snatched out of the jaws of victory. NVA General Vo Ngun GIap admitted he believed they were defeated by what they correctly perceived as a defeat in the failed Tet Offensive. It was only the moral defeat at home in the US, and the perception that Tet was a success, that changed Giap's mind by the self destructive left undermining the war effort. The same useful idiots who shamed our troops and in the end denied our victory by encouraging our enemies.. All those American lives lost fighting that war, and it was fellow Americans who denied us a deserved victory. And even us pulling out would not have ended in the loss of the South if it were not for those traitors in Congress cutting off all support for the South Vietnamese. THAT is why it is a painful cultural memory. In the end we were trying to lose.

It agonizes me that all this time later people still don't understand what people in power understood then - Ther was NEVER sustaned support in America for anything more than a limited war. This is why the pentagon & White House always had a limited set of options to choose from & this is why the war was always on the clock. Every hour & dead American was one step closer to a war that was too unpopular to sustain. it also agonizes me that there are still people who act as if this war was America's to win & lose. This was a Vietnamese war & the side that fought more effectively won it. I wish they hadn't, but they did. America could have made different & better choices, but there is no guarantee that any of those would have changed the final outcome. America was denied 'victory' by the successes & failures of their allies & adversaries.

I once recall a d!ckead protester proclaiming 'we stopped a war'. To which someone replied, 'yeah, you & several million dead Vietnamese'. What fascinates me about this debate is how desperately the those who claim to despise the antiwar movement want to buy into its self-aggrandizing fantasies. Jews, traitors & Communists didn't defeat Germany in WW1, 'the Media', traitors & communists didn't defeat the US in Vietnam.

Skywatcher
27 Mar 11,, 05:23
Speaking of Vietnam, how much longer would South Vietnam had gone on for if Cable 243 hadn't been sent and Ngo Dinh Diem and his family continued to have free reign?

JAD_333
27 Mar 11,, 08:58
Ther was NEVER sustaned support in America for anything more than a limited war.

That's not how I remember it. I don't know that "sustained" describes public support at the time. Sounds to me like retrospect.

I recall there being strong support for the Tonkin Resolution. A unanimous vote in favor in the House or Representatives and near unanimous in the Senate hardly reflect negative public opinion.

From the buildup in 1965 until early 1968 public opinion backed the war. Only after the Tet Offensive in early 1968, did it begin to fall sharply in reaction to discouraging media reports.



Later in the war, after Tet and the beginning of American troop withdrawals in 1969...journalists grew skeptical of claims of progress, and the course of the war was presented more as an eternal recurrence than a string of decisive victories.
VIETNAM ON TELEVISION - The Museum of Broadcast Communications (http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=vietnamonte)

I won't mess with the rest of your post because we'd have to get into Cold War dynamics. Suffice it to say that democracies are at a disadvantage in limited wars from the start and the disadvantage grows as the war goes on.

JAD_333
27 Mar 11,, 09:02
Anybody notice the article Warrior posted has a virus trap at the end. Neat trick. Hijack an article on a sensitive subject, invite comments, and hope people bite.

Tarek Morgen
27 Mar 11,, 09:09
It does? *deletes link*

JAD_333
27 Mar 11,, 09:11
I don't know what it does, but google threw up a warning and blocked me. I could go on, but I didn't.

Delete the "comment on this" part?

Bigfella
27 Mar 11,, 11:01
[QUOTE]That's not how I remember it. I don't know that "sustained" describes public support at the time. Sounds to me like retrospect.

Well...yes. nature of history.


I recall there being strong support for the Tonkin Resolution. A unanimous vote in favor in the House or Representatives and near unanimous in the Senate hardly reflect negative public opinion.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution set out the very basis for a limited war. No grand & dramatic decalarations of war, no invasion of the North. That was not just chance - after Korea Johnson was uncertain that he could get support for a lengthy or bloody war. That was one of the keys to understanding why he fought the war he did.


From the buildup in 1965 until early 1968 public opinion backed the war.

Yes, support for a limited war. Even that slid steadily as the war became longer & costlier. Thus Johnson & Westmoreland spent the last months of 1967 running around telling anyone who would listen that the war was being won & that there was 'light at the end of the tunnel'. Around the end of 1967 support & opposition for the war were both in the 40% range.


Only after the Tet Offensive in early 1968, did it begin to fall sharply in reaction to discouraging media reports.

Wrong. Support dropped steadily over time. There are a lot of good reasons to see Tet as a 'turning point', but it only led to a slight acceleration in an existing trend. As long as the war continued & Americans kept dying the numbers were going to keep sliding (as they had in Korea).

As for the 'media lost the war', a popular myth (especially among conservatives) that doesn't gel with reality. Typical example of confusing correlation & causation. Over three years of largely positive reporting hadn't made the war more popular, two weeks of in which there were more negative images & stories than usual didn't make it unpopular. The accurate assessment by people that the war wasn't being 'won' in they way they had been told & the equally accurate assessment that it wasn't going to end soon or without substantial loss of American life helped to push support down. So did the rising body count. 1968 was the bloodiest year of the war - Tet was only responsible for a small part of that. Indeed, the big poll drops didn't happen just after tet, but months later.

Back to where we started, my reference to 'limited war'. Many in the 'we coulda won' crowd believe that the way to victory would have been a bigger & more violent war. Often they suggest an invasion of the DRV as the way to victory. My point is that Johnson & his advisors knew they would struggle to maintain support for this sort of war (and they would risk another war with China). That path is as much a historical dead end as what was actually tried.


I won't mess with the rest of your post because we'd have to get into Cold War dynamics. Suffice it to say that democracies are at a disadvantage in limited wars from the start and the disadvantage grows as the war goes on.

Democracies have problems in most wars unless they can convince people that there is a clear & present danger to the nation. Time is a problem, so is death. Johnson wanted to avoid a long & costly war, in the end he got both.

Just a point on your link. Not a bad summary of TV & the war (I've read most of the reference works it cites), but if you're using it to support the idea that coverage led to a drop in support ethen you've misread it. The article actually describes a change in coverage in response to a drop in support for the war, not driving one. Throughout the war media coverage generally followed public opinon rather than leading it.

Bigfella
27 Mar 11,, 11:19
Speaking of Vietnam, how much longer would South Vietnam had gone on for if Cable 243 hadn't been sent and Ngo Dinh Diem and his family continued to have free reign?

I'll get back to this when i have more time because it is a good question. Personally I think it would have ended the war more quickly. Diem's regime was increasingly unstable & had a bad image in the US. Land reform had tanked & the buddhist protests were causing probelms inside & outside Vietnam. Indeed, I recall at one point Nhu even musing with the idea of discussions with the NLF. Without the massive committment of US ground forces that started in 1965 the RVN would have fallen. I can't see that committment coming while Diem was there.

JAD_333
27 Mar 11,, 19:15
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution set out the very basis for a limited war. No grand & dramatic decalarations of war, no invasion of the North. That was not just chance - after Korea Johnson was uncertain that he could get support for a lengthy or bloody war. That was one of the keys to understanding why he fought the war he did.

Well, you'll get an argument from politicians on that score. They'll say Johnson didn't want a declaration of war because it would have upset his sweeping domestic agenda--the War on Poverty, Civil Rights...etc. I was a document page in the House of Reps and watched from the floor of the House the vote of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Bill. It was a powerful moment, and it gathered momentum quickly. Can you imagine what a declaration of war later that year would have done to Johnson's hopes, at least in his mind. Also, there was the need to signal to our Cold War adversaries that we knew the game and how far each could go before triggering a world war.




Wrong. Support dropped steadily over time. There are a lot of good reasons to see Tet as a 'turning point', but it only led to a slight acceleration in an existing trend. As long as the war continued & Americans kept dying the numbers were going to keep sliding (as they had in Korea).

Wrong? I said support waned after Tet. I didn't speak of before Tet, but yes it was less before than immediately after the Tonkin Resolution. Tet was a 'turning point". I remember the flood of media reports as if it was yesterday, and their slant was all wrong. It was not the military setback they portrayed and that fact emerged within days. I heard and saw it all on TV, radio and the papers. But it didn't make much difference. The public was tiring of the war, all the faster because of the spreading anti-war movement. War over there and "war" at home was just too much for the general public.

You can use books to make your arguments, but I was there in person, watching, taking no sides, but frustrated that we could, but didn't take the fight to the North. And a lot of people felt that way. Crudely put, pro-war
people were saying, "either sh*t or get off the pot." When that didn't happen, the silent majority became allied with activist protesters, and public opinion went negative.


As for the 'media lost the war', a popular myth (especially among conservatives) that doesn't gel with reality.

The aegis of the war lost it. No declaration of war. That meant no control over the media or anti-war activists. One could posit that, therefore, the media lost it. But that would be true in any war where the media is allowed to roam the battlefield at will taking images of slices of the war and reporting them back home with little attention to the larger picture. Pictures of mayhem, mangled bodies, and bombs going off do not whet the appetite of the public for war. Such is how the media inadvertently shapes public opinion. They are in the business of selling pictures.

The extent the media affects the outcome in any conflict is never certain, but it must be substantial or the combatants wouldn't try so hard to influence or control it. It is easier to fight a distant war when the public sees it in the abstract. When they see it in reality, katie bar the door.

Chogy
28 Mar 11,, 14:35
but frustrated that we could, but didn't take the fight to the North. And a lot of people felt that way.

This to me is the great oddity of Vietnam, that we had soldiers and airmen ready and willing, and the leadership waffled. ROE approached the "insane" threshold, especially in regards to the air war. "See that freighter? It is loaded with enemy war material. Don't touch it." Or, "That star of David will be an active SA-2 site in two weeks. It'll kill your friends. But hands off, because there might be foreign workers there."

Hundreds of books have been written. The retrospective view is baffling. How, why, could our civilian leadership have conducted that war as they did? Everyone remembers Desert Storm. Vietnam was a hovering ghost. "When we go to war, we will accept nothing less than victory. Our troops will have all that they need to accomplish the mission." with all implying both materiel, AND appropriate ROE, with a clear and unambiguous mission.

JAD_333
28 Mar 11,, 15:04
How, why, could our civilian leadership have conducted that war as they did?

It seems to me we have to think Cold War. All during the cold war we fought proxy wars with the USSR. There seems to have been a tacit understanding that if one side came too close to the other's home territory, it could trigger a more serious confrontation resulting in a nuclear exchange. Had we gone into N. Vietnam, we would have mopped up the NVA easily, but what of the thousands of Chinese military in N Vietnam supporting the NVA? Say we chased them back into China. Now we'd be occupying territory right on the Chinese border. This would have been a considered a major strategic threat by the Chinese and by their principal ally, the USSR. Look at the map. Consider also how we reacted to Soviet missiles in Cuba and a communist-backed regime in Grenada.

Officer of Engineers
28 Mar 11,, 16:44
This was also the time that Moscow asked the US to back their invasion of China.

JAD_333
28 Mar 11,, 16:56
This was also the time that Moscow asked the US to back their invasion of China.

Interesting. Have you a source where I can learn more about this?

Officer of Engineers
28 Mar 11,, 17:00
I've posted here a link once describing a Statement Dept conversation with the Soviet Embassy. Let me look for that. The other source was Nixon's Memoirs in which he detailed a conversation with Leonid Brezhnev about attacking China.

astralis
28 Mar 11,, 18:36
JAD,

for your reading pleasure:

Electronic Briefing Books (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/index.html#China)

i think col yu may be referring to this:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB49/sino.sov.10.pdf

and this:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB49/sino.sov.16.pdf

Stitch
28 Mar 11,, 20:30
It seems to me we have to think Cold War. All during the cold war we fought proxy wars with the USSR. There seems to have been a tacit understanding that if one side came too close to the other's home territory, it could trigger a more serious confrontation resulting in a nuclear exchange. Had we gone into N. Vietnam, we would have mopped up the NVA easily, but what of the thousands of Chinese military in N Vietnam supporting the NVA? Say we chased them back into China. Now we'd be occupying territory right on the Chinese border. This would have been a considered a major strategic threat by the Chinese and by their principal ally, the USSR. Look at the map. Consider also how we reacted to Soviet missiles in Cuba and a communist-backed regime in Grenada.

That's exactly what happened in Korea in 1950; we got too close to the border, and the Chinese didn't like that. Our plans were to stop short of the Chinese/Korean border, but the Chinese had no way of knowing that, so they attacked. We came very close to going nuclear at that point, especially since MacArthur was pushing to use nukes against Chinese forces in direct violation of Truman's orders. There are even unsubstantiated rumors that there were several Mk. IV nuclear devices pre-positioned in Japan for possible use against China.

JAD_333
29 Mar 11,, 04:03
JAD,

for your reading pleasure:

Electronic Briefing Books (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/index.html#China)

i think col yu may be referring to this:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB49/sino.sov.10.pdf

and this:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB49/sino.sov.16.pdf

Interesting stuff. Tanks much for the links. I see what OoE was talking about.

I had no idea that the Soviets sent out feelers--pretty explicit ones--to find out what we would do if they took out China's nuclear forces. A couple of observations, however, as it pertains to the thread at hand: The year of the feeler was 1969, and Nixon was president and trying to end the war in Vietnam. So, it doesn't really serve to argue against the supposition that Johnson, 5 years before, was retrained in asking for a declaration of war and/or opted for a limited war so as not to risk a provoking a larger war with the Chinese and Russians acting as allies, or just the Chinese, which would be bad enough, recalling Korea.

The second message is kind of amusing. The Soviet general, speaking of Sino-Soviet border clashes, mentions that Chinese guards bit Soviet guards. After speculating on the possibility that the clashes would escalate into war between the USSR and China and how the USSR would nuke a Chinese invasion, he assumes the US would back the Soviet Union. He then says nostalgically that it would be "nice" to have the Soviet Union and the US fighting together "once again". lol...

I must admit I like the Russian character. If you come across a 1950 NY Times bestselling book called Comes the Comrade by Alexandra Orme, check it out. It's an amusing, sometimes tragic, firsthand account of a little slice of the Soviet army's liberation of Hungry from Nazi Germany. It nails how Russians of every class level think and act.

JAD_333
29 Mar 11,, 04:15
That's exactly what happened in Korea in 1950; we got too close to the border, and the Chinese didn't like that. Our plans were to stop short of the Chinese/Korean border, but the Chinese had no way of knowing that, so they attacked. We came very close to going nuclear at that point, especially since MacArthur was pushing to use nukes against Chinese forces in direct violation of Truman's orders. There are even unsubstantiated rumors that there were several Mk. IV nuclear devices pre-positioned in Japan for possible use against China.


Stitch:

There are other accounts of why the Chinese attacked. The principal one being that they came in to pull N.Korea's fat out of the bacon. The dear one attacked the south over China's objections. But once the war began, China wasn't about to let UN/US forces consolidate its gains in the north.

No doubt the Chinese calculated the nuclear risks and concluded that US political leadership would not use nukes so soon after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also at that time the USSR and China were tight and the Soviets by then possessed nukes.

The best authority around here on the subject is OoE. If he's of a mind he'll weigh in.

Officer of Engineers
29 Mar 11,, 05:31
The best authority around here on the subject is OoE. If he's of a mind he'll weigh in.I am of the mind that Mao had decided to intervene in the Korean War before Kim marched south. There is no way for 2 Armies to perform that well in hostile territory chasing an American army without a hell of a lot of prep work.

But that is not pertinent to this thread.

The issue is this, would the Americans met WWIII had they marched north against Hanoi? American strategic thinkers thought yes, even despite the Sino-Soviet clashes.

The fact was that Hanoi was on her last legs. Chinese troops were being withdrawn in anticipation of a war between China and the USSR. There was only one line left and when the Americans destroyed it in LINEBACKERS I & II, there were no replacements.

The simple fact was that Moscow was willing to make a deal. The Americans can take Hanoi if the Soviets were allowed to take Peking.

JAD_333
29 Mar 11,, 06:30
Stitch:


There are even unsubstantiated rumors that there were several Mk. IV nuclear devices pre-positioned in Japan for possible use against China.

The only part of that which may be unsubstantiated is that they were in Japan. They were out there somewhere...probably Okinawa.

We came very close to using the bomb, even to the point of making practice runs over various targets with dummy bombs. Truman even signed but did not execute an order to use them. The sticking point was geopolitical concerns. Using the bomb against China might convince the USSR that the US was too involved in Asia to meet an all out Soviet move on W. Europe. China would certainly have asked Russia to move on W Europe to force the US to pull forces from Korea...so the thinking went in some circles.

astralis
29 Mar 11,, 14:26
col yu,


I am of the mind that Mao had decided to intervene in the Korean War before Kim marched south.

to hijack the thread just a little bit more-- i wonder how mao would have intervened had kim rolled all the way south and the US stayed out. it seems to me he had contigency plans if kim -couldn't- roll all the way down, and it just so happened to work out that way.

moreover, i wonder what would have happened were the allies just a little bit more successful and pushed north faster, say by a few months. that would have thrown chinese planning a loop.

Albany Rifles
29 Mar 11,, 14:38
JAD,

Reference LBJ and 1964 and 1965 asking for a full war declaration.

Don't look at Viet Nam in isolation.

Johnson was dealing with:

1) His own election
2) The entire civil rights movement passing and staying afloat
3) Khruschev being deposed
4) Greece and Turkey fighting over Cyprus
5) Pakistan and India starting the fighting over Kashmir which led to the 1965 Indo-**** War
6) Multiple wars of liberation in Africa and the intervention in the Congo
7) A lot of unrest in Latin America which led ot US troops going into the Dominican in 1965
8) The Watts Riots and the entire Great Society legislation
9) The PRC explodes a nuke

I know you are well aware of all of this....and I ma not trying to be a bigger jerk than I normally am.

Its just with all of this I don't think a full declaration of war would have passed without his domestic agenda being damaged and the need to work the other issues around the world.

Officer of Engineers
01 Apr 11,, 04:02
col yu,



to hijack the thread just a little bit more-- i wonder how mao would have intervened had kim rolled all the way south and the US stayed out. it seems to me he had contigency plans if kim -couldn't- roll all the way down, and it just so happened to work out that way.

moreover, i wonder what would have happened were the allies just a little bit more successful and pushed north faster, say by a few months. that would have thrown chinese planning a loop.Eric,

I had to think this through, not easy but here is my answer.

The ONLY scenario that would negate Mao`s intervention was a non-US involvement. The November Kilos could not have asked for a better collapse of the Sierra Kilos. However, by whatever measure you want to implement, the November Kilo infantry could not reach the Pusan Perimeter any earlier than they did and by that time, there was no way for the November Kilos to breach that line. In fact, they were beaten back.

As for marching north, the Chinese action was a desperation one. They had hoped to stablized the lines. They were NOT looking at a complete collapse. Else, there would have been better preparations to keep the 4 guns divisions up with the infantry.

Red Seven
25 Apr 11,, 14:22
America could have made different & better choices, but there is no guarantee that any of those would have changed the final outcome.


And there, my Children, is the profound, succinct and salient point. Yes, we could have invaded the North with 6 divisions, airborne assaults, amphibious hooks, massive air and sea bombardments...and the NVA would have melted away into the hills and jungles from where they would have conducted a long-term sustained guerrilla campaign for another ten, twenty or thirty years, and the "final outcome" would have been the same--except perhaps, for another fifty thousand names on the Black Wall.

Bigfella
25 Apr 11,, 15:58
And there, my Children, is the profound, succinct and salient point. Yes, we could have invaded the North with 6 divisions, airborne assaults, amphibious hooks, massive air and sea bombardments...and the NVA would have melted away into the hills and jungles from where they would have conducted a long-term sustained guerrilla campaign for another ten, twenty or thirty years, and the "final outcome" would have been the same--except perhaps, for another fifty thousand names on the Black Wall.

Thanks Red Seven, you make a good point. I've never been convinced that invading the Nth was really the answer. As it was the war became unsustainably unpopular by the time the 'body count' reached 30,000. In Korea it had been even lower than that. An invasion will lead to a sharp spike in deaths. Given the timelines (this is going to have to take place in 1965-67) there is no way the RVN & its armed forces are going to be up to administering or pacifying the Nth - they could barely be said to be administering the Sth & they definately weren't pacifying it. After all they had fought for it seems unlikely that the leaders of the DRV would just roll over, and whatever their thoughts on the commuists, most Northerners are going to see this as invasion, not liberation. Give it another year or two 10,000 dead per year & see what the polls look like in America.

This was a Vietnamese war involving Americans. Unfortunately too many Americans still see the Vietnamese as background scenery in their own country. The presumption that the war was won & lost in the White House, Pentagon or news rooms of New York may be understandable, but overlooks too much.

Officer of Engineers
25 Apr 11,, 16:46
I think it was you who stated that before the LBs, the population of the North was also getting tired of war. Most certainly after Tet, there was panic in Hanoi that nothing stands in the way of a counter-American invasion except for the threat of a Chinese intervention ... and the Chinese were going home to get ready for their war against Moscow.

There was definitely a morale drop in the north as families buried an entire generation and even a few have no more sons to give even if they wanted to and few wanted to to that incompetence who planned Tet.

South Vietnam was North Vietnam's Vietnam. They were running out of volunteers and most of all, the will to prevail. They knew that they were going to be alone soon as their allied communist giants were going to duke it over. Ironically, it was the LBs that galvanized their will to resist, turning Hanoi's incursions into the South as one of national survival.

Had the Americans just keep smashing Northern armies, I see the North tiring of war before the Americans. Their losses were greater and getting intolerable.

astralis
25 Apr 11,, 22:18
I see the North tiring of war before the Americans. Their losses were greater and getting intolerable.

unfortunately that's really a hindsight judgment. the Pentagon had been saying that since roughly 1966-1967, and when Tet rolled around it was the Americans whom ultimately blinked first.

Officer of Engineers
25 Apr 11,, 22:28
unfortunately that's really a hindsight judgment. the Pentagon had been saying that since roughly 1966-1967, and when Tet rolled around it was the Americans whom ultimately blinked first.Ironically, the Pentagon was right. Tet was their last roll of the dice before American public opinion gave them not only breathing room but more importantly nerve to rebuild.

I don't think it is revisionist history to state that Hanoi was scared to death of a counter invasion.

Red Seven
26 Apr 11,, 00:47
South Vietnam was North Vietnam's Vietnam....Had the Americans just keep smashing Northern armies, I see the North tiring of war before the Americans. Their losses were greater and getting intolerable.


Very interesting point of view.

The problem was, there were no "Northern armies" amassed or static enough to "keep smashing." If only there had been the smashing would have been so much easier. The dispersion of NVA and VC regiments, their knack for breaking up into smaller units for infiltration and regrouping at rendezvous points for attack and then dispersing again into small elements made it extremely difficult to pummel them in larger configurations. This was the kind of thing that so frustrated such a hopelessly conventional and unimaginative commander like Westmoreland.

In spite of the losses sustained by the North, I can't agree with your contention that the North would've tired before the Americans. The North was very well aware of the power and influence of the anti-war movement in the US, a movement that grew even stronger and more inclusive after Tet. All they had to do was hold out. And for an incredibly patient people like the Vietnamese, holding out was almost a national trait.

Officer of Engineers
26 Apr 11,, 01:18
The problem was, there were no "Northern armies" amassed or static enough to "keep smashing."They were coming. The thing is that guerrilla warfare alone could not win Hanoi's victory. Sooner or later, they need those armies. Mao figured this out during his civil war in China. Giap, a must able student, thought the same.


If only there had been the smashing would have been so much easier. The dispersion of NVA and VC regiments, their knack for breaking up into smaller units for infiltration and regrouping at rendezvous points for attack and then dispersing again into small elements made it extremely difficult to pummel them in larger configurations. This was the kind of thing that so frustrated such a hopelessly conventional and unimaginative commander like Westmoreland.And it's a casualty intensive tactic. Make no mistake, Giap's tactic was to outbleed the Americans. My point is that they were at least running out of willing blood, even if they still have unwilling blood to spare.


In spite of the losses sustained by the North, I can't agree with your contention that the North would've tired before the Americans. The North was very well aware of the power and influence of the anti-war movement in the US, a movement that grew even stronger and more inclusive after Tet. All they had to do was hold out. And for an incredibly patient people like the Vietnamese, holding out was almost a national trait.Actually, no. Hanoi suffered an anti-war movement far, far, far worst than the Americans. It took them 2 years to rebuild and only with North Vietnamese bodies. Those vaunted VC regiments. They disappeared forever after Tet. Those was no recruiting pool to replace those losses. After Tet, instead of an allied North supporting a southern insurrection, it became the North's war against the south.

This being said, it was the greatest stroke of luck that the American anti-war movement also stopped American military expansion of that war. Giap may have claimed that his Tet Offensive caused the American anti-war efforts but there is no way in hell did he ever planned for it.

Red Seven
26 Apr 11,, 13:48
Hanoi suffered an anti-war movement far, far, far worst than the Americans.


Honestly, OoE, that's an extraordinary statement. I'm not saying you are wrong. I may just not have had access to the same sources. But in all my reading about the war and from my personal experience with ARVN Regional Force infantry, I can't remember ever encountering details of any anti-war "movement" in North Vietnam, and certainly not one that would have eclipsed that which raged in the United States. Having said that, however, I'll freely admit to you that my focus of study has largely concerned itself with American and South Vietnamese military operations, joint ops and US Marine COIN operations in SVN and elsewhere. I've never thought to seek out information on a North Vietnamese anti-war movement because I never knew there was one of any consequence.

Any anti-war movement on the scale you describe, in a highly militarized nation with a Communist regime, had to have been extremely muted. And that is what makes me think that your contention is a bit overstated.

I do agree with some of your other points, regarding the high casualties suffered by the VC/NVA during Tet and the fact that larger formations indeed "were coming" as they would be needed for the Easter Offensive of '72 and eventually for the final invasion of the South once the American withdrawal had sufficient negative impact on ARVN warfighting capabilities.

I can confirm that the two-year rebuilding effort after Tet that you've mentioned was very successful. With willing (or unwilling) bodies, by early 1971 NVA fighting prowess, power and high morale were very much in evidence. Specifically evident during Lam Son 719, an operation I was in position to observe, the ill-fated incursion into Laos by a number of elite South Vietnamese divisons--including SVN Marines and Rangers--backed by a robust array of US fixed-wing and rotor aircraft and other support elements.

astralis
26 Apr 11,, 14:21
Red,


Any anti-war movement on the scale you describe, in a highly militarized nation with a Communist regime, had to have been extremely muted. And that is what makes me think that your contention is a bit overstated.

think the good col is referring not to northern opinion but to southern opinion. after Tet, the indigenious southern supporters for northern unification died and never came back.

re: this point by the col, though:


Ironically, the Pentagon was right.

the problem was that the Pentagon was only technically right after Tet, and was incorrect in '65, '66, '67, and '68. that's one reason why today's commanders always seek to temper expectations.

of course what i'm really surprised about is how south vietnam suddenly went under in '75. even accounting for foreign support for the north and non-intervention on part of the americans...the south vietnamese were remarkably well-armed in 1975-- at least on paper. to hear that south vietnamese units, towards the end, were running short on small arms ammo and needing to buy their own grenades...makes me wonder WTH happened there.

Red Seven
26 Apr 11,, 15:57
Red,



think the good col is referring not to northern opinion but to southern opinion.

Astralis, my apologies to the good Colonel, if he meant to write Saigon instead of Hanoi. But I think he did mean the North as he references them throughout the following paragraph:

"Actually, no. Hanoi suffered an anti-war movement far, far, far worst than the Americans. It took them 2 years to rebuild and only with North Vietnamese bodies. Those vaunted VC regiments. They disappeared forever after Tet. Those was no recruiting pool to replace those losses. After Tet, instead of an allied North supporting a southern insurrection, it became the North's war against the south."




after Tet, the indigenious southern supporters for northern unification died and never came back.

Certainly some wind gone from their sails but not out of the fight by any means, (if, by "indigenous southern supporters," you mean the Viet Cong).


of course what i'm really surprised about is how south vietnam suddenly went under in '75. even accounting for foreign support for the north and non-intervention on part of the americans...the south vietnamese were remarkably well-armed in 1975-- at least on paper. to hear that south vietnamese units, towards the end, were running short on small arms ammo and needing to buy their own grenades...makes me wonder WTH happened there.

That's a good question and to understand WTH did happen you have to consider just a few of the factors in play, like the firmly entrenched military and political corruption on a vast scale throughout the South, a North Vietnamese intelligence network that was pretty effective and downright treachery among various ARVN officers. You can have all the weapons in the world, but if your General has made a secret deal with NV agents to make it unavailable (by selling vast quantities of it on the Black Market), it's not going to do you much good. And there were many officers who were very busy planning their personal post-war contingency options once it became evident that the US was planning to get out.

I know about corruption and treachery in the ARVN officer ranks. I also remember the looks on the faces of my ARVN counterparts when my teammates and I boarded a CH46 in a dry rice paddy in May '71 for the last time...and thinking right then that "these people will not make it alone." ARVN morale was already very low then.

Officer of Engineers
26 Apr 11,, 23:53
Allow me to clarify.

First off, the military situation was damned precarious. Only the threat of a non-existing Chinese intervention was stopping the Americans.

2ndly, that big Tet effort was a disaster. The Northern population was hearing for months, especially about Kai Sang and Saigon and how the south was uprising. When it became clear that they lost, no amount of propaganda was going to sway the reality and the loss of such a committement.

3rd, and most importantly, Northern families were burying their sons by the 1000s. Mothers were crying over lost sons in a disastrous effort that resulted in nothing but the loss of their sons. The funerals alone dried up any immediate replacement armies and in fact, it took Hanoi 2 years to find replacements before they could venture forth again.

4th, the VC was destroyed and the south dried up as support. There would be no uprising in the south and the effort required now was bigger than Tet ever was.

The situation was that for 2 years, the Americans did not take advantage of Hanoi's military weakness. Imagine what would had happen had Stalin gave Hitler 2 years breathing space after Stalingrad. Well, the Americans gave that to Hanoi.

DOR
27 Apr 11,, 03:57
I was too young for the Vietnam draft, by about 14 months, but I remember the time and I’ve studied the history with people who were there, and from more than one side of the conflict. I did research for a guy named Doug Pike who was the chief Hanoi watcher in the US embassy in Saigon, and have read up on the Chinese participation, as noted below. I’ve been to Vietnam several times since 1992, and I’ve also got several (mostly European) friends who were journalists during the war, and have lived in Asia ever since. So, my sources are varied and I think my views are well-informed.

I have tremendous respect for those who put their lives at risk, with or without a weapon in their hands, but also recognize that unless someone was in a bird’s eye view position for many years, the perspective is probably an excellent understanding of a very narrow, limited part of the story. That’s why scholars write books and explain what happened, and why generals and academy cadets read those same books. Perspective.

My two cents:

-o- After 20+ years of civil war, the 8-month-old People’s Republic of China had zero interest in a war in Korea. All the Chinese sources I’ve seen say that they were not consulted but merely informed, and late. They moved troops into the North-east in 1948-49 to take control of surrendering Nationalist soldiers, establish governments and prevent the Soviets from further looting the industrial machinery that the Japanese had installed in what used to be ManZhuGuo. Only in October 1950 did they begin moving troops into Korea.

-o- Mao told Ho Chi-minh that he expected Vietnamese communists to win first, and then help Chinese communists win their own war in China. Since it went the other way, he felt obligated to help Ho.

-o- China had over 120 generals and hundreds of thousands of troops and workers in Vietnam for over a decade prior to the Cultural Revolution. The entire Dien Bien Phu battle wouldn’t have taken place had not PLA General Wei Guoqing convinced Viet Minh Sr General Vo Nguyen Giap not to drive down the coast, but to find and destroy a significant French force, purely for the political impact it would have on public opinion in France.

-o- The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was the blueprint for yellowcake and other “intelligence” designed to convince Congress to go along with the Administrations' war. Maybe people involved really thought they were doing the right thing by manufacturing an excuse to expand military operations, or launch an entire war against another sovereign nation. I have my own views on the matter.


-o- The USSR and PRC were at loggerheads, and worse, in the early to mid-1960s; it erupted into armed conflict in 1969. The possible invasion of China mentioned earlier in this thread was a Soviet proposal to destroy Chinese ICBMs and research facilities, which the US turned down (and, later leaked to the Chinese). The US never seriously considered invading the Chinese Mainland after 1953, and used the Soviet suggestion and some classified satellite photos of Soviet troop placements and movements to convince the Chinese that (as the old Vulcan saying goes) Only Nixon Can Go To China.

-o- Until I got to grad school, I thought the domino theory was a bunch of bull. But, as I began to piece together the timeline of various South-east Asian insurgencies and the abrupt shift in the fortunes of communist rebels in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Burma just as the GPCR was getting underway, I came to change my mind.

-o- The Tet Offensive was a failure for the North Vietnamese, but Southern / US intelligence was so poor we didn’t know that we could have drove straight through to Hanoi with minimal resistance throughout the Spring.

-o- Regardless of whether the US or the US plus others could have kept any South Vietnamese government in power for more than a few years, the war stopped China from pushing revolution throughout South-east Asia in the last decade of Mao’s life.

That was probably worth the price we paid.

astralis
27 Apr 11,, 13:38
col yu,


The situation was that for 2 years, the Americans did not take advantage of Hanoi's military weakness.

given that the LBJ administration always ruled out an invasion of the north, what steps could the US have taken otherwise to bolster the position? there was an attempt at Vietnamization but for some reason it didn't go too well.

Red Seven
27 Apr 11,, 14:13
Allow me to clarify.

First off, the military situation was damned precarious. Only the threat of a non-existing Chinese intervention was stopping the Americans.

2ndly, that big Tet effort was a disaster. The Northern population was hearing for months, especially about Kai Sang and Saigon and how the south was uprising. When it became clear that they lost, no amount of propaganda was going to sway the reality and the loss of such a committement.

3rd, and most importantly, Northern families were burying their sons by the 1000s. Mothers were crying over lost sons in a disastrous effort that resulted in nothing but the loss of their sons. The funerals alone dried up any immediate replacement armies and in fact, it took Hanoi 2 years to find replacements before they could venture forth again.

4th, the VC was destroyed and the south dried up as support. There would be no uprising in the south and the effort required now was bigger than Tet ever was.

The situation was that for 2 years, the Americans did not take advantage of Hanoi's military weakness. Imagine what would had happen had Stalin gave Hitler 2 years breathing space after Stalingrad. Well, the Americans gave that to Hanoi.


Yes sir, thank you for clarifying. I agree 99% with the points above as stated and apologize if I misinterpreted your last. The 1% I'd question you about would be "the VC was destroyed." Hurt very badly during Tet, I agree, but not finished. They did manage a partial resurgence and by '71 were conducting bolder operations with larger units than in the years immediately after Tet.

Red Seven
27 Apr 11,, 14:47
there was an attempt at Vietnamization but for some reason it didn't go too well.


Permit me a stab at this, astralis. There were a lot of reasons. I think the main one is that "Vietnamization" was not the step-by-step, gradual transition of force that it should have been. It would have taken way too long to do it right. And even then, there were so many variables, some that I've touched on above, the situation was so complex and so gone-to-hell by that time that "Vietnamization" was not much better than an ad slogan.

I'm not sure about the Army, but most US Marine ground combat units in I Corps were gone by June 1971. The "transition" that took place was not a transition, it was a pack-up, roll-up and get-out-of-town. When your unit's turn came, there was, for OPSEC reasons, very little warning. You burned what you didn't need, you left what you couldn't carry and you got on the helo. Xin chao, xin loi.

Officer of Engineers
27 Apr 11,, 17:31
My two cents:

-o- After 20+ years of civil war, the 8-month-old People’s Republic of China had zero interest in a war in Korea. All the Chinese sources I’ve seen say that they were not consulted but merely informed, and late. They moved troops into the North-east in 1948-49 to take control of surrendering Nationalist soldiers, establish governments and prevent the Soviets from further looting the industrial machinery that the Japanese had installed in what used to be ManZhuGuo. Only in October 1950 did they begin moving troops into Korea.David,

The problem I have with that scenario is that you don't move that many men into hostile territory without a hell of a lot of prepwork, especially with food and water. Ammunition comes after that. As it was, while the average Chinese soldier only carried a cup of rice is a myth, it is not far from the myth. The 4 guns divisions were left behind after the initial thrusts and the Chinese were running out of steam before reaching the 38th.

If the supply lines could not keep up, then the Chinese would have collapsed long before the 38th, never mind retaking Seoul. That kind of effort could not have been done without planning and execution that would take longer than the traditional timeline suggests.


Yes sir, thank you for clarifying. I agree 99% with the points above as stated and apologize if I misinterpreted your last.You do not have to ever feel the need to apologize if you do not understand my points. Your job is to make sure you understand me, including asking me for clarifications. My job is to be as clear as I can be and if I am not, then I will have to go into further details.


The 1% I'd question you about would be "the VC was destroyed." Hurt very badly during Tet, I agree, but not finished. They did manage a partial resurgence and by '71 were conducting bolder operations with larger units than in the years immediately after Tet.I just did a quick google and obviously, a lot of revisionist history is going on, especially from Hanoi who now claims that the VC was never an independent force, and always under the command of Hanoi. If that is the message, then, you are right, the VC was never destroyed.

However, this being said, Tet saw the end of that facade and from that moment on, there was never any doubt that the VC and the NVA were one and the same.

astralis
27 Apr 11,, 19:01
R7,


Permit me a stab at this, astralis. There were a lot of reasons. I think the main one is that "Vietnamization" was not the step-by-step, gradual transition of force that it should have been. It would have taken way too long to do it right. And even then, there were so many variables, some that I've touched on above, the situation was so complex and so gone-to-hell by that time that "Vietnamization" was not much better than an ad slogan.


thanks for the info. i know you already were out of country by the time the NVA pulled their Easter Offensive, but what did you think of the ARVN response? moreover, how was the ARVN during Lam Son 719?

it seems that the ARVN was able to stop the NVA in '72 with US air support but once that was gone they had nothing. i've heard conflicting evidence of the ARVN will to fight-- there were some ARVN units that went down very hard in '75 and some ARVN units that simply disappeared.

Bigfella
27 Apr 11,, 22:16
Permit me a stab at this, astralis. There were a lot of reasons. I think the main one is that "Vietnamization" was not the step-by-step, gradual transition of force that it should have been. It would have taken way too long to do it right. And even then, there were so many variables, some that I've touched on above, the situation was so complex and so gone-to-hell by that time that "Vietnamization" was not much better than an ad slogan.

I'm not sure about the Army, but most US Marine ground combat units in I Corps were gone by June 1971. The "transition" that took place was not a transition, it was a pack-up, roll-up and get-out-of-town. When your unit's turn came, there was, for OPSEC reasons, very little warning. You burned what you didn't need, you left what you couldn't carry and you got on the helo. Xin chao, xin loi.

Red,

I'm hoping to find time for longer replies to all of the posts here, but just a quick point on 'Vietnamization'. it actually began in 1955 one way or another. The scale of its failure the first time around was the need afer 1960 to keep increasing the US presence in Vietnam until full scale interevention was unavoidable. Flash forward 5 years & it was tried again, starting from a bigger base (the ARVN was quite large by then) and more successful, but not successful enough. I'm afraid the ARVN always struggled without the US as battlefield backup.

DOR
28 Apr 11,, 03:09
LCol, in late October, 1950, the Chinese People’s Volunteers were a very sadly equipped force. They had inadequate winter gear and a very wide variety of Chinese, Japanese, US and other weapons. POW reports say little more than a quarter of the soldiers in some regiments had rifles, and there were almost no heavy mortars or larger guns crossing the border that year.

Units present in Korea before the end of 1950 were identified in other places in China just a few months earlier. For example, in May 1950, the 40th Army under General Han Xianchu was at its post-Civil War base in Henan. On October 25th, they were in Korea.

These guys didn’t do modern logistics; they lived off the land, or died.

Officer of Engineers
28 Apr 11,, 03:28
These guys didn’t do modern logistics; they lived off the land, or died.David, that is the point. No way in hell could they have lived off the land and drive the 8th Army that fast. You forage or you march and if you forage for others, you have to catch up. The 8th Army moved faster than Chinese trucks could keep up and thus, 4 guns divisions were left behind. Two infantry divisions smashed into Kapyong. A human body is still a human body, needing 2 litres of water a day and 1000 calories just to live, nevermind fighting a battle after a 20 hour march. Yes, you could convince me that this was the case at the Sino-Korean border or even at Choisin but at Kapyong, the Chinese should have been bingo food, water, and ammunition. They were not.

DOR
28 Apr 11,, 07:42
LCol, if we’re talking about the same thing, the Battle of Kapyong (Jiaping, in Chinese) was late April 1951. Plenty of time for resupply.

I’m going to back up a couple of paces. I’m no expert on this battle, and I haven’t read anything about it, beyond Wikipedia and passing references in half a dozen books. I'm out of my depth.

But, after the CPVs over-ran UN forces straight down the peninsula, and then retreated back up; and after six months in which to get their supplies oriented, it doesn’t strike me that the simple answer to how they were able to fight effectively in April 1951 is that they got their supply lines set up before June 1950.

So, back to my original point: Mao & Co were aware of a war on their border only very few days or weeks before it started.

DOR
28 Apr 11,, 08:21
More,

This analysis [http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Korean_War.html] based on Soviet sources says Stalin warned Kim Ilsung off of an attack in Q-1 1949, and six months later was still telling him to keep it civil.

In January 1950, Dean Acheson did not mention Korea in his National Press Club speech outlining US strategic interests in East Asia (oops). That same month, Kim Ilsung complained to Soviet Ambassador Terentii Shtykov about the USSR’s lack of support for an invasion, but it isn’t clear to me whether Kim knew of Acheson’s speech at that time.

Mao visited Moscow December 1949 to January 1950, but relations between Stalin and Mao were not very good. Stalin hadn't backed the CCP against the KMT during the Anti-Japanese War. Stalin didn’t treat Mao as an equal, keeping him waiting and generally pissing off the Chairman in ways he never forgot.

The analysis I cited above says “according to all available data the Soviet dictator never mentioned to the Chinese guest his decision to launch an attack on the South…” This fits very well with the well-known competition between Mao and Stalin for leadership of the international communist movement, particularly in Asia.

My best guess is that Stalin began to come around to the idea of a small adjustment to the Korean situation (invasion and conquest) in January 1950, but thought the timing was not yet right. Kim got Stalin’s go-ahead during a trip to Moscow in April 1950, and Mao was aware of plans, but not preparations, only in mid-May 1950. That’s not much time, and given the assumption that the North Koreans would walk all over the South – and that the US would stay out – there wouldn’t have been too much emphasis on stockpiling materiel in Liaoning and Jilin.

Officer of Engineers
28 Apr 11,, 09:17
Then, there's this

http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/warfare-modern-age/2928-korea-reluctant-dragons-red-conspiracies.html

However, a couple of things.

1) Warning orders are not the same as execution. Getting ready to intervene does not mean intervention itself. Those Chinese divisions were given warning orders to get ready. They have to. Again, food, water, and ammunition must be sourced before you go into battle. Foraging in the middle of a battle, especially against a superior armed foe, is not an option.

2) 6 months is not a hell of a lot of time, especially when you don't know where your army would be in 48 hours, This is not Stalingrad where the enemy is static and you can build up your supplies for the offensive, this is a retreating force with ample firepower and complete air superiority that could and did cut the LOCs almost daily.

What both means is that the Chinese had all their contingencies planned out, at least to the point where they can adjust tactically. That cannot be done in the traditional timing that has been suggested.

Red Seven
28 Apr 11,, 14:45
R7,



thanks for the info. i know you already were out of country by the time the NVA pulled their Easter Offensive, but what did you think of the ARVN response? moreover, how was the ARVN during Lam Son 719?

it seems that the ARVN was able to stop the NVA in '72 with US air support but once that was gone they had nothing. i've heard conflicting evidence of the ARVN will to fight-- there were some ARVN units that went down very hard in '75 and some ARVN units that simply disappeared.


ARVN in general was inconsistant. Individual units at all levels--division, regiment, battalion, company and platoon--seemed to mirror the competency or incompetency of their officers. I know this is true in many armies, but in ARVN it was so pronounced as to be remarkable.

I had the fortune and misfortune to be integrated (our word back then for "embedded") with both a "good" ARVN unit and later a "bad" ARVN unit. The good one I'd rate pretty dependable to outstanding...the bad one was undependable, corrupt, treacherous and cowardly. Night and day, in other words, and I've heard other advisors, covans, combined action and SF folk often describe their counterparts in these black and white extremes.

The main reasons for the inconsistency, I believe, was the corruption and political favoritism rife throughout the officer corps.

There were some very good ARVN units engaged in Lam Son 719; airborne, armor, Rangers, Marines. There were also some serious command and control issues at higher levels. Tactical airstrikes on NVA triple A sites in Laos were unable to sortie due to bad weather. The NVA managed to react with great effectiveness, especially in filling the air with steel causing us to lose a few hundred helicopters. A few hundred. (I can't imagine the public's reaction today if our forces were to lose as many aircraft in a single operation.)

ARVN was simply outfought in Laos. In the end it was US and SVN air support that saved their bacon, but everybody who went into that hornet's nest got stung bad...some units were so decimated the survivors just walked and limped all the way back to their villages in Quang Tri and Quang Nam...and the many weaknesses in the doctrine of helocentric/airmobile assault--such a staple of American war-making then--were brutally exposed.

Some images

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a53/Alryan/Operation20Lam20Son2071920Huey20on20Fire.jpg

ARVN Rangers during retreat

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a53/Alryan/arvn_rangers_lam_son_719.jpg


During the Easter '72 offensive, the PAVN was actually invading Southern territory, (with PAVN tanks coming down through the Hai Van) which I suspect injected some steel into the backbone of the ARVN resistance.

astralis
28 Apr 11,, 15:04
thanks for the words and the pix, Red...much appreciated.

i guess the good units were outnumbered by the bad units(?). and by the end the logistics system was all FUBAR'd.

Red Seven
28 Apr 11,, 22:28
thanks for the words and the pix, Red...much appreciated.

i guess the good units were outnumbered by the bad units(?). and by the end the logistics system was all FUBAR'd.


Good units probably outnumbered bad. But ARVN had had many years to become dependent upon US support, and it's not all their fault. During Lam Son, I think the higher-ups expected to find the PAVN all standing around in the open at Tchepone asking to get shot. Charlie in fact wasn't there...he was everywhere but there. Here are some maps:

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a53/Alryan/GOODMAP719-1.jpg


And a flight map showing LZs and objectives inside Laos, etc

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a53/Alryan/maplaos2.jpg