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Lecture 8

POSC415 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Army Of The Republic Of Vietnam, Extortion, Strategic Hamlet Program

Political Science
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replaces most province and district chiefs
replaces most top military commanders
June 1965: air vice marshal nyguyen cao ky named prime minister
widely suspected of drug smuggling
politics begin to stablize
mid1966: new Buddhist unrest in Dangang and hue suppressed by police and ARVN
SEPTEMEBR 1967: NYGUYEN VAN Thieu elected through fixed election
US strategy in the mid 1960s
coercive bombing in NORTH Vietnam
rolling thunder - aim to bomb them to peace table
NLF controlled 3/4 of the countryside
search and destroy. - us policy
NLF often withdrew before operation always returned afterward
“big unit war”
conventional battles against NVA in jungles or central highlands
strategy of attrition, progress measured by body count
Problems of US strategy
impossibility of coercion
Ho Chi Minh had stated willingness to fight for 20 years if necessary
coercive bombing had no chance of breaking enemy will
impossibility of attrition
NLF/NVA intiated over 90% of engagements
controlled tempo of war
US troops used as bait
estimated enemy force larger in late ’67 than early ’65 when US arrived
due to NVA reinforcement
US wages had predicted this pattern ignored
Failure to attempt pacification
1966: PROVN study by army recommended pacification strategy (clear
and hold/“oil drop”)
Westmoreland’s metaphor of termites and crewbars: focus on big-unit war
Ineffectiveness of US tactics
Failure to secure villages meant no personal security for peasants
Peasants vulnerable to NLF attacks and reprisals
VC sniped from villages to provoke US and destroy them
Result: search and destroy tactics alientated population
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