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

Why did military tactics cause USA to withdraw from Vietnam?

Extracts from this document...


Why did military tactics cause America to withdraw from Vietnam? In 1964 the United States of America invaded North Vietnam in a bid to halt the spread of communism throughout Asia. The American government believed in a theory called the 'domino effect'. This was the thought that Asian countries were closely linked together and if one country became communist then others would follow. Countries such as China and North Korea had previously became communist, and America was determined not to let Vietnam become another. When America invaded, it was widely believed they would easily take control because of their superior wealth and military technology. However this was not the case, and in 1973 America withdrew their forces from Vietnam without victory. The main reasons for this were the country the war was fought in, the successes of the Vietnamese (Vietcong and NVA) tactics and the failures of the American tactics. The terrain of Vietnam was suited to the Vietnamese more than the Americans. The country was full of dense jungles with very few towns or clearings. American soldiers had not had sufficient jungle warfare training, and had no knowledge of the poisonous creatures and disease in the jungles. ...read more.


A dense jungle canopy hid the Trail, making enemy bombing difficult. The Vietcong used a vast system of hidden tunnels that covered the majority of the country. These provided an area of safety for soldiers away from enemy spy planes and bombing. The tunnels facilitated guerrilla tactics as men could launch attacks from them, before disappearing back into them. All tunnels were heavily camouflaged often almost invisible from above ground. Foliage and trees concealed entrances and exits, while even within the tunnels certain corridors are hidden. Tunnels were never alike, though the more extensive systems contained ammunition caches, dormitories, conference rooms, kitchens and even hospitals. The United States of America used very different tactics to the Vietnamese. The wars they had fought in the past were large-scale conflicts with immense pitched battles. American military tactics typically revolved around large infantry advances supported by armoured detachments. Vietnam was a new experience for them. America began the war in Vietnam with 'Operation Rolling Thunder', a bombing campaign. It was supposed to last eight weeks but it continued for three years. The aim of this bombing campaign was to cripple the North Vietnamese infrastructure and destroy their military installations. It was believed that if heavy damage were inflicted upon the Vietnamese, they would surrender. ...read more.


If any were found then the Americans would burn down the village and take prisoners. Search and destroy operations were not always successful as guerrillas began setting ambushes for the Americans. As the enemy blended in with the civilians, the Americans could rarely distinguish between them. This caused deep frustration for the Americans who were losing their friends to invisible enemies. This resulted in them occasionally taking their anger out on villages. An example of this is the 'My Lai' incident, where over three hundred unarmed civilians were killed. Overall, I feel the successes of the Vietnamese tactics far outweigh the successes of the American tactics. However, despite the Vietcong taking full advantage of the terrain America caused much higher losses than they did. America was forced to withdraw as the war had very little support at home and there were many protests. As their tactics alienated the Vietnamese people, many Americans believed the war was wrong. The public had begun to hear of the atrocities committed by their soldiers. The drug abuse and exceptionally poor morale was also discovered, making public opinion on the war reach an all time low. The Tet Offensive of 1967 was the turning point, as it convinced the American government that the Vietcong had inexhaustible amounts of men willing to give their lives to fight off the invaders. This caused the Americans to withdraw without victory. ...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 ...

    In 1968 the CIA introduced a system code-named 'Operation Phoenix'7 whereby tens of thousands of expected VC were sought out and interrogated few of which were said to come out alive. Methods of torture included the insertion of a six-inch length of dowel into a detainee's ear and then tapping

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

    Provide a source for this claim. The Vietnam War is so famous because it was the first war that had such wide media coverage. It has often been called a war "fought on television". It was the first war that had film crews and photographers on scene during battles with the ability to shoot with film whilst everyone around them was using live ammunition.

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

    Guerilla warfare was a sort of 'hit and run' tactic. It relied on close combat and mainly ambushing the enemy. This also meant that the US couldn't use their tactic of having a body count; which was when they counted the amounts of people they killed.

  2. Why Did The USA Withdraw Their Soldiers From Vietnam?

    The American forces often moved Vietnamese civilians away from their homes and into U.S controlled 'strategic hamlets'. At the time the Americans were quoted as saying that they were doing this for the civilians safety although after the conflict it was brought to light that the true reason for this

  1. Vietnam - Why did the USA withdraw it's troops in 1973?

    The My Lai massacre divided public opinion; the massacre confirmed the feeling, growing since the Tet Offensive of 1968, that the Vietnam War was now a war that America couldn't win. The guerrilla warfare wore U.S soldiers down, they knew hat by having more ambushes and booby traps, they could break their will to fight.

  2. Why was the United States forced to withdraw its soldiers from the Vietnam war

    The tunnels also provided the Vietcong with cover for attacking invaders. With the V.C knowing their way not only through the jungle but through the underground as well, this left the Americans feeling extremely nervous whilst performing their search and control missions.

  1. Why did the USA become involved in Vietnam in the 1950s and the 1960s? ...

    As well as that, the anti-Communist movement growing in the USA was so big that if the Presidents did not act over Vietnam becoming more and more aggressive against the Communists, they would not have kept their Presidency as they would have had little support.

  2. Describe the Military Tactics used by both the USA and the Vietcong Forces In ...

    The Americans did not help the situation when they entered towns and villages and tortured peasants until they told them about the NLF putting them off the South even more. The NLF used Guerrilla tactics and this meant that they would never get involved in open conflict unless they were

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