How Effective Were The Tactics Of Search And Destroy And Defoliation During The Vietnam War?.

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How effective was the Tactics of Search and Destroy and Defoliation.

Throughout the Vietnam War, there were many tactics used by the USA and General Westmoreland such as Search and Destroy and Defoliation. Throughout all, the tactics of Search and Destroy proved to be the most controversial. These tactics were primarily used to force the end of the war and force the spread of communism away and win ‘Hearts and Minds’ of the Vietnamese people.

Search and destroy was mainly used to seek out the enemy and to eliminate its forces within the area. Many of these missions took place as General Westmoreland believed that, if they were able to lower the enemy forces and moral by a substantial amount it would win them the war. This he thought could be achieved by the USA’s superiority of firepower including intensive aerial bombardment and the uses of helicopters and tanks. Similarly, he used to the advantage of the huge amount of soldiers available in the USA. He already had approximately 16,000 men, but in1964 the troop number topped almost 500,000 men. However, these men were not adequately trained for the terrain and situation in Vietnam. Most of these men had been through only 12 weeks of training. This was hardly enough to ensure their survival. This made it extremely difficult for the soldiers as the enemy (Vietcong/Vietminh) and NVA were more trained to fight in this terrain.

Westmoreland believed that if he attacked the National Liberation Front (NLF) and National Vietnamese Army (NVA) with overwhelming force, he could win by attrition. In 1965, the strategy of Search and Destroy was put into play. This involved deploying a certain number of American Troops into known areas of where the NLF and NVA may perhaps be taking refuge. The Troops were intended to kill all the VC and NVA they found.

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This was carried out by helicopters escorting the troops to designated areas to search and eliminate any force they seeked out. This was a major advantage for the US troops as it allowed for swift and accurate deployment of troops and helped remove wounded from certain areas. Moreover, the terrain and geographical perspective of Vietnam made troop movement extremely difficult and the best and easiest way to travel was in the air.

The reality of these tactics and operations was quite different. US troops normally made mistakes as the could never tell the difference between a VC and a ...

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