• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent can it be argued that the use of guerilla warfare tactics by the Vietcong against the US military was the key factor in explaining the American lack of success in the Vietnam War?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent can it be argued that the use of guerilla warfare tactics by the Vietcong against the US military was the key factor in explaining the American lack of success in the Vietnam War? The Vietnam War has been regarded with much controversy - both during the War, and after its conclusion in 1973. This was not only due to the humiliating defeat that America suffered but also because of the contentious hidden reasons for America's presence there. America came under heavy criticism because it seemed to the world that their presence in Vietnam was purely strategic and economical rather than for the protection of Vietnam's people as America had first claimed. From the wars outset there was worldwide outrage caused by this controversy, this outrage grew and grew as the war progressed leading to an absolute worldwide lack of support for America's seemingly selfish war effort. This worldwide lack of support included many protestors at home in America. This was devastating for the morale of the hundreds of thousands of young 'grunts', most of whom had never experienced the true horror of the battlefield. Throughout the war American losses, both financial and military were astounding. Never before had a country with America's degree of power and worldwide influence been so unsuccessful when combating an economically underdeveloped country such as Vietnam. Admittedly North Vietnam did receive aid from both the Soviet Union and China but despite this, Vietnam has to be seen as a Third World country defending their homeland from the world's biggest super power. ...read more.

Middle

I have already mentioned the way the troops felt battling an unseen enemy, but the importance of American morale or lack thereof cannot be overlooked as a reason for the US defeat. It is hard for one who has not experienced war to understand life in a soldiers boots, especially that of a grunt in Vietnam. Never before had American troops had to endure as harsh conditions as those experienced on the battlefields of Vietnam. These unbelievably harsh conditions led to low morale in all of the troops. Many things led to this crushing lack of morale; guerilla tactics, inexperienced and young troops (the average age of a soldier in Vietnam was just 19), inability to communicate with or understand the people they were trying to defend and the looks of hatred in the very same people's eyes. The troops were used to easy living at first with long R&R breaks and short tours, involved more as a precautionary measure rather than to actually enter battle but because the superior firepower was totally ineffective in Vietnam, the troops were put onto the front line. Lack of morale in troops is always devastating to a countries war effort. A major problem that the US military faced apart from unwilling soldiers was a rife drug problem. Marijuana was readily available in Vietnam and the majority of the grunts were users. This drug did nothing to help the morale level of troops on anything more than a temporary basis. The grunts would often go into battle 'high' and this made combating the Vietcong even more difficult and the Vietcong used the US troops use of the drug to their full advantage. ...read more.

Conclusion

Eventually the support on the home front collapsed and the American people joined in protesting their own involvement in the war. This was another factor that led to the crushingly low levels of morale in the troops. In conclusion after considering other possible causes for the US defeat, the evidence suggests that the Vietcong the use of guerilla warfare tactics was the main cause for the US lack of success in the Vietnam War. Whilst there were clearly many other contributing factors, I have found that the use of guerilla tactics played a major role in a battle that was fought on the ground, pinning down huge numbers of US troops in Vietnam. Enough damage was inflicted on the troops that eventually sufficient pressure was bought on the US government to pull their troops out. This was when the war ended, when the US government realised they couldn't win, this was because of guerrilla tactics. I considered what the outcome of the war would have been had it been fought in a different way and believe this would have made a huge difference to the outcome of the war. The fact that America was in Vietnam for their own strategic interests rather than for the Vietnamese people was a close second in the ordering of reasons. Finally the lack of morale was the third major contributing factor but I found that this was mostly caused by the fear of the unseen enemy that the troops faced caused by guerrilla tactics. Word count: 2689 Jon Clifford 1 4 2 2 3 1 4 3 5 1 6 4 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 2 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. To what extent can it be argued that the use of guerilla warfare tactics ...

    All these factors will be considered in order to arrive at a conclusion as to what was the major cause of America's humiliating retreat. Since America first got involved, its motives for engaging in the Vietnam War have been debated among historians.

  2. Describe the military tactics and weapons used by both the USA and the Vietcong ...

    in the geography of Vietnam, you would have needed a durable weapon to withstand every single trip and fall. It was tipped to be a much more reliable weapon but it often jammed, costing the lives of hundreds of Americans caught in firefights.

  1. Dunkirk - A success or failure?

    This source gives very accurate information on the situation of Dunkirk showing it is a very valid source. Source 14 is a written format of an interview which underwent with a soldier who was rescued from Dunkirk via 'Operation Dynamo', for the BBC website in year 2004 the soldier was Ivan Daunt.

  2. Explain why the US withdrew its forces from Vietnam in 1973?

    To this effect, the US agreed to allow China to join the UN and tried to exploit the bad relations between China and the USSR. Withdrawing troops from Vietnam would greatly aid the situation as America would be shown to tolerate communism and would therefore be closer to avoiding war

  1. What can you learn from Source A about the reasons for US involvement in ...

    were not very successful and were actually being attacked by the communists they were supposed to be eliminating. In 1968, the Viet Cong attacked and took over twelve US bases and the US embassy was attacked. This had a devastating effect on public support, because the whole attack had been broadcast on American television.

  2. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    By mid-May, Truman's aid package had passed Congress overwhelmingly. On the same day the Truman Doctrine received final approval, George Marshall and his aides at the State Department were busy shaping what Truman would call the second half of the same walnut- the Marshall Plan of massive economic support to rebuild Western Europe.

  1. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    On 21 August, parliament met with the necessary two-thirds quorum, courtesy of the LF, and voted through the Ta'if constitutional amendments. The National Assembly approved, and President Hrawi signed into law, constitutional amendments embodying the political reform aspects of the Taif agreement.

  2. To what extent was the Civil War the main factor in the Bolshevik

    have weakened this argument as they were included like the war against the greens which leads me to the impression that this source is not very credible. And they would be cautious on what sort of signal they would have emitted to the rest of the world as the communist soviet government was still in power in during the time.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work