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GCSE: Vietnam 1954-1975
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The Vietnamese were experts in guerrilla warfare. All they wanted was self-rule. They were a nation who had defeated the Mongol hordes and seen off invasion by China. The people were a collective unit who had centuries of practice in warfare and were indomitable As Henry Kissinger said "We ignored the oldest and most fundamental rule of warfare-know your enemy". The American government failed to understand the mind-set of the Vietnamese. We lost the war because of America's foreign policy. It was to stop the spread of Communism, not do be rid of it.
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This made a lot of Americans upset and annoyed and resulted in protests. People were protesting because of the anti-war movement, the influence of veterans, people?s opposition to the draft and the influence of the media. The anti-war movement believed that the war was morally wrong, that the USA was lying to its people; the war was corrupting young US soldiers through drugs and mindless violence. Another thing they believed was that the South Vietnamese government was corrupt and that the North Vietnamese were fighting for freedom.
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Throughout the Vietnam War, the Americans used various tactics to try and defeat their opponent, two of which were Search and Destroy and defoliation.
Areas of inland forest, borders of Laos and Cambodia were some of the worst hit. Why were they used and When? Search and destroy was used between 1965 and 1967, and was first instigated by General Westmoreland. It depended on the military capability, under the assumption that American fire power and technology was so superior that both the Viet Cong and the People?s Army of Vietnam would be unable to cope with the punishment that would be delivered. It was also used to try and expand inner-country operations, covering more of the country, and touching more people.
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It is estimated that it cost the USA $400 thousand dollars to kill just one Viet Cong soldier. Search and destroy missions also usually ended up with civilians being killed. The experience of the Viet Cong and the inexperience of the American soldiers The Viet Cong guerrilla tactics were very effective against the American soldiers. They used ambushes, booby traps and after fighting just hid with the peasants in villages. Their fighting destroyed the American soldiers? morale; generally the Viet Cong were much more experienced in fighting in the jungles as they had also fought the French and the Japanese.
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