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

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Describe the military tactics used by both the USA and the Vietcong forces in Vietnam in the 1960s? The Vietcong and US became involved in a Guerrilla War from 1962. The Vietcong were experts in guerrilla warfare after years of experience fighting with the French and South Vietnam. The Vietcong used their home advantage effectively against the Americans. In 1967, the Vietcong began to move out the Jungle and attack the US in towns and cities. They also gained better artillery to fight back the Americans, as the war started to turn in their favour during the late 60s. The US were confident of winning the Vietnam War at the start, and deployed intensive military tactics in order to fight back the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army. The US started off using Agent Orange in 1962, 'Hearts and Minds' and 'Strategic Hamlets'. These tactics later changed and became more aggressive as the US started to use 'Search and Destroy' terror tactics and Napalm against the Vietnamese. They also dropped 8 million bombs over 8 years. Ho Chi Minh, leader of North Vietnam, decided to employ the same tactics used by Mao Ze Dong when he lead the communist party to victory in China in 1949 in order to help him fight against the US and South Vietnamese army by organising the guerrilla army into small groups of three to ten groups of soldiers called cells. ...read more.


During 1967, the NLF began attacking US garrisons, which initially pleased the Americans, as they believed that the war was starting to turn in their favour, as it appeared the Vietcong had left the jungle. The Tet Offensive of the 31st January 1968 took place during the Tet New Year festival. 36 cities and town across South Vietnam were ambushed in a surprise attack by 70,000 North Vietnamese soldiers and the Vietcong. This threw the Americans into a frenzy as they were shocked by how well organised the Vietcong were in going about their attacks, and how easy it was for them to recruit 70,000 new soldiers in a short period of time after having lost 90,000 in 1967. This sent shockwaves through the politicians and people back in America as it appeared they could not win the Vietnam war as previously thought, because the increasing number of NLF soldiers coming down the Ho Chi Minh trail would eventually out number them. The US started off using the 'Strategic Hamlets policy', also known as safe villages, introduced by President Kennedy in 1962. This was used to cut off the Vietcong from the South Vietnamese villages and deprive them of food, shelter and a place to hide. The Strategic Hamlets policy resulted in villagers being moved into new villages, away from the Vietcong, surrounded by barbed wire and guns for protection. ...read more.


When the Vietcong were using the jungle to hide in, the US deployed 'Agent Orange'. This is an example of the US counteracting the Vietcong tactics. This continued throughout the war, but with both sides counteracting each other in order to gain an advantage. During 'Operation Rolling Thunder', the Vietcong began to build underground tunnels. The Vietcong became more and more powerful after gaining better artillery from China and the USSR, and also became wiser in how they went about attacking the Americans. After all, they were on home soil so had much greater knowledge of landscape and guerrilla warfare. However, the Americans seemed to outweigh this disadvantage at the start as they had much better artillery to fight with than the Vietcong and used it to their advantage, such as 'Operation Rolling Thunder'. The US were used to conventional warfare, so the guerrilla warfare used by the Vietcong was new to them, as well as the landscape. As the war went on, the morale of US soldiers started to decrease and affect them greatly, with the My Lai massacre in 1968 being the end result. This led to tactic changes because as the Vietcong weaponry improved, they decided to come out of the Jungle and launch organised attacks on the US, such as the Tet offensive. This was a turning point for the Americans as they realised that could not win the war in Vietnam as previously thought. ...read more.

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