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Describe the military tactics used by both the USA and the Vietcong forces in Vietnam in the 1960’s.

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David Gray Vietnam Coursework: task 2 Describe the military tactics used by both the USA and the Vietcong forces in Vietnam in the 1960's. The military tactics used by the USA and the Vietcong forces in Vietnam in the 1960's were very different. The USA with its modern fighting equipment believed it could win the war against the Vietcong whose Guerrilla tactics had been used to defeat both the Japanese and the French and could now be used effectively against the USA. The Americans regarded the Vietnamese as poor and backward peasants, underestimating the idealism of people who were fighting to defend their homeland. The Vietcong could not have succeeded in expelling the American forces without support from the USSR and China. The Cold War confrontation continued in Vietnam, a civil war hijacked by the USA, China and the USSR. The military tactics used by the USA in Vietnam can be defined by: - 'The art and science of employing the armed forces of a nation to secure the objectives of natural policy by the application of force, or the threat of force.' (Col Harry Summers, the Vietnam War Almanac). American tactics at the beginning of the offensive were: attrition, bombing, the use of strategic hamlets, defoliation and search and destroy. These tactics were chosen because of the successes which the USA had fighting against Germany and Japan in World War 2 and against North Korea and China during the Korean War. ...read more.


Operation Ranchhand was the code name for USAF's campaign to destroy vegetation. Millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other toxic defoliants were sprayed over South Vietnam. Throughout the war, in the field 'Search and destroy', was the tactic used by the US. The Vietcong were to be located and destroyed initially by bombing. Later this annihilation was carried out by ground troops. Whole areas of South Vietnam were designated as Free Fire Zones. In these zones troops were allowed to fire at will. Many villages were destroyed, razed to flush out 'suspected' Vietcong. This tactic gave way to many atrocities, Quote from school source book There were many instances of innocent civilians being killed by US troops. Support for the Vietcong amongst the South Vietnamese population began to get stronger. The tactics used by the Vietcong forces in Vietnam in the 1960's owe as much to the political struggle as to armed conflict. The guerrilla war began in 1959, when the North Vietnamese Politburo activated five to ten thousand Viet Minh soldiers who had been lying low. By 1964 there were 25,000 Vietcong guerrillas operating in South Vietnam reinforced by 570,000 North Vietnamese Army troops. By 1965, the political will of the peasants of South Vietnam led to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. If the US had not intervened, communism would have spread throughout South Vietnam. The Vietcong were fighting a civil war and the tactics, which they used were those of guerrilla warfare. ...read more.


In 'Search and Destroy' missions more atrocities were committed, such as the one at My Lai where almost 500 men, women and children were massacred. 'Troops accosted a group of women... Then a soldier asked, 'Well what'll we do with them?' 'Kill them,' said another soldier. I heard a machine gun go off and when we turned around, all of them were dead.' (Source I, Edexcel booklet) Atrocities like this helped the Vietcong win even more support from the South Vietnamese people. P29 Aylett P1 Source book Heavy bombing, designed to bring the communists to the peace talks, appeared only to strengthen the Vietcong's resolve to carry on fighting. In 1969, Nixon began to bomb Cambodia, secretly in an effort to stop supplies coming along the Ho Chi Minh trail. In 1970, Laos also became a target for US bombing. In May 1972, Nixon ordered Operation Linebacker 1 a series of massive air strikes on key targets in North Vietnam. In December, 1972 Operation Linebacker 11 unleashed awesome destruction on North Vietnam. Two weeks later US ground forces left Vietnam. Although Col. Summers in his Vietnam Almanac, states, 'this decision to confront US Military power head on was a disastrous mistake for the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese were defeated at every turn', I think it was impossible for the US to win a war against a guerrilla army, because there were no fixed battle lines, the US did not respond with the correct tactics and ultimately, the US were prepared to destroy the country to save it. ...read more.

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