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What different tactics were used by both sides in an attempt to win the conflict in Vietnam between 1956 and 1968?

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Introduction

Liam Haggerty 10WD History coursework question 2 - What different tactics were used by both sides in an attempt to win the conflict in Vietnam between 1956 and 1968? In order to try and win the conflict in Vietnam the Americans and the Vietcong used many different tactics. Most of the tactics used were direct responses to the other sides change in tactics. This carried on for 12 years. Following the French's defeat at Dien Bien Phu. South Vietnam was left non-communist. Immediately the asked fro help by America in fear of the communist north forces taking over the south. America responded almost immediately and adopted a conventional method and gave South Vietnam and Diem economic and military aid. At the Geneva conference the three super powers agreed that all of Vietnam would hold free elections. The plan was to hold the elections in 1956 but Diem and America fearing a communist victory prevented the elections from taking place. The leader of the communist north, Ho Chi Minh now knew he was not going to win by an election and the only way he would win would be by war. He began to launch a guerrilla war against the South Vietnamese government. This is involved using guerrilla tactics. Guerrilla warfare was unlike conventional warfare and used various strategies different to those of America. ...read more.

Middle

Operation 'ranch hand' was the first tactic introduced that involved helicopters or choppers as the Americans called them. These transformed the war and were used for a number of things like moving soldiers quickly, evacuating soldiers quickly, reinforce positions more speedily all these could be done at short notice. They proved very effective in saving soldiers and transporting them to hospitals. They also provided up to date information on the enemy. Although 'ranch hand' proved quite effective the Vietcong again had an answer to the Americans tactics. It was tunnelling. If the Vietcong couldn't hide in the jungle they would hide underground. The tunnels were armed with traps and mines in case the Americans got in. In 1965 Americas new president Lyndon. B. Johnson began to fear the defeat of the American army by the Vietcong due to the ongoing stalemate. In response to this Johnson launched operation 'rolling thunder'. This was the name given to the bombing of North Vietnam. It began in May 1985 and lasted on and off for three years. It involved the bombing of military establishments, bridges, roads, rail lines, fuel lines and storehouses. The idea was to try and bring North Vietnam to peace negotiations but until 1968 these efforts were in vain. In response to the Americans war in the air tactics they introduced a very highly effective air defence system. ...read more.

Conclusion

Johnson announced he would re-elect for presidency because the tactics he chose had not worked and was unable to win the war. His predecessor was Richard Nixon. He claimed that he would not be the first president to lose a war but public opinion demanded further easing of American involvement. His response was called vietnamisation. It meant the gradual withdrawal of American troops but at the same time they would train the ARVN to fight the war on their own. In 1969 the first troops began arriving home. Meanwhile Nixon ordered the bombing of North Vietnam to begin again and also the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail. From the middle of 1969 the ARVN received millions of dollars of equipment including rifles, tanks, guns, and ships. Nixon had not cut off all American involvement in the hope that North Vietnam would begin peace talks, which would get America out of Vietnam without looking beaten. During the 12 years both sides had used many different tactics especially America none of which had really worked. Personally I believe America was fighting a lost cause from the first day they became involved. The result of which dragged America deeper into a lost cause and due to some poor decisions made (strategic hamlet programme) they made it harder for themselves to beat the guerrillas. In my opinion the reason why America dragged their involvement on was the fact that none of the American presidents wanted to be responsible for losing their first war. ...read more.

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