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Lecture 7

POSC415 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Tet Offensive, 19Th Parallel North, Haiphong

Political Science
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POSC415: US Strategies in Vietnam
1. USA Strategies in Vietnam
a. Political Goal: get Hanoi to stop supporting the NLF
i. Means: coercive bombing
b. Strategy #1: lenient shelling
i. “Don’t kill the hostage
c. Strategy #2: Interdiction
i. Cutting supply lines, bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail
d. Strategy #3: “genteel Douhet”
2. Rolling Thunder I
a. “Lenient shelling strategy
i. 4 components
1. Threaten to destroy North Vietnam’s industrial base
2. Don’t kill the hostage
3. Slow escalation to increase pressure
4. Secret diplomacy
b. Implementation raid -- ‘65
i. Bombing focused on military and transport targets
ii. Very little industrial bombing
iii. Targets moved slowly northward to the 18th and then 19th parallel
iv. Increased damage of bombs dropped
v. Secret diplomacy
vi. Result: failure
3. Rolling Thunder II: Interdiction (late 65 - early 67)
a. Logic: cut supply lines
i. Transport and military convoys
b. Implementation
i. Sorties (a mission by one airplane) focused on armed reconnaissance
ii. Destroy fuel supplies
iii. Rail lines to China and Haiphong cut
iv. Bomb damage of 66 is double that of 65
v. Scale: all USAF could do (more resources wont = change; they’re hitting
their targets effectively)
vi. Result: no effect
1. Why: only needed 13-34 tons/day
4. Rolling Thunder III: Sharp Knock (late 67)
a. Genteel Douhet
b. Logic: break enemy will to fight
c. Implementation
i. 98% of targets on JSC list hit
ii. Targets were nationwide
iii. (Dropped) Bomb tonnage in 1967 was 3.5 times the total dropped in ‘65
iv. Genteel: Focus on military population not civilian population
v. Result: Tet Offensive
5. Interdiction II: Menu Bombings” of Cambodia ‘69-70
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