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Why did America withdraw its forces from Vietnam in 1973?

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Introduction

Why did America withdraw its forces from Vietnam in 1973? After 30 years of war, the capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, fell into communist hands. Two years earlier, the US army left Vietnam defeated. Many factors made the Americans admit defeat. There are three areas, which account for the withdrawal of US troops: War factors including: failure of US military tactics; differences in experience between US and opposition forces; poor morale of US troops from the experiences of the war. Social factors that include: opposition to war particularly in America; unpopularity of South Vietnamese government; and the cost of war. International factors including: support for VC forces from Russia and China: 'Operation Rolling Thunder' was the American bombing campaign over North Vietnam. It was supposed to last 8 weeks but lasted 31/2 years. More bombs were dropped in this campaign than were dropped in the whole of the Second World War. North Vietnam had very few factories, meaning that bombing was ineffective. Another US tactic was called 'Search and Destroy' which was to find the enemy and destroy them. ...read more.

Middle

The VC was less sophisticated but they stayed close to the US troops. This meant Americans couldn't bomb the VC without killing themselves. The VC weren't scared of death and they had a real cause for fighting. The American soldiers consumed drugs and alcohol because their morale was so low and this made them even less effective to fight against the VC. The lack of US experience in guerrilla warfare undermined their morale. The American soldiers didn't believe in what they were fighting for. This meant they weren't properly motivated for fighting. The opposition to war from many civilians at home reduced morale even more because they felt that they had little support from their own people. The morale was so low that between 1966-1973 there were 503,000 cases of desertion. Racial tension was also a large problem. This tension was between black and white troops because at this time the white community was treating black people in an awful way. Black soldiers were commonly called the 'beast' and white soldiers would laugh behind the black soldiers back. ...read more.

Conclusion

The longer lasting costs were that people became more confident about protesting against the government and future protesters targeted nuclear weapons. All of these factors had great consequences on the withdrawal of US forces but poor US tactics and the poor morale of the US forces are the most important ones. Many of these factors interlink. The fact that the US soldiers were unable to fight their enemy face to face meant that their morale was very low. The commonly known 'Zippo Raids' in which peasants houses were burnt down to discourage peasants from helping Vietcong only increased the support for VC and the unpopularity of the Americans. The use of chemicals meant Americans at home thought of the war being a crusade were dashed making the US government very unpopular. Protests in USA made morale lower for troops in Vietnam. The government had planned the 'Great Society' but the war was costing $20 a year and Linden B Johnson had to cut spending making war in America even more un-popular. Francis Hine-Hughes Page 1 ...read more.

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