US Victory in Vietnam

The US was reputed to have set up a complete "shadow Government" in it's embassy in Saigon. It handled all major decisions made to run South Vietnam.
So a provocative claim with no proof?
Lets look at the facts. The United States provided material aid to South Vietnam, not unlike the Soviet Union and China. It also provided training support, something the other communist states also did.
The United States helped pay for policies and programs the government of the republic of Vietnam did. This makes sense since how can a broke nation pay for programs intended to modernize and develop its nation? This is no different to what the United States did in Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. Unless you believe they're run by secret CIA in embassies too.
Famously, American military advisers and policymakers were furious and angry that their Vietnamese counterparts frequently didn't listen to them. Doesn't this throw a wrench in your secret puppet government claim? Eisenhower and Kennedy were furious that Diem never listened to them and that was one of their main complaints. Frequently throughout the 1960s, the United States advocated appeasement with the various fighting factions inside South Vietnam. Yet, the period with the most political, military, and economic stability in South Vietnam was when leaders didn't listen to this American advice. Those were the two longest serving presidents in South Vietnam's history.
 
Ok, this is more or less my musing, less debate backed up by any credible research papers (news, historical shows, documentaries, articles, journals...). it may or may not recycle the ideas already posted in this thread.

As mentioned on page 3 (or 4), someone defines the "win" condition for the US is to have an existing "Republic of Vietnam" with a permanent division, making the two countries de facto independent states. Kind of like Taiwan and PRC, or DPRK and RoK at the moment.

The RVN, officially speaking, starts its existence in 1956 (on a direct violation against the Geneva Accord of 1954, but the State of Viet Nam did not sign the Accord, the violation is legally accepted) with a referendum. The one that Diem wins against then-king Bao Dai with a 600k votes in favor of him (Of course, let's butterfly and ignore that the fact that there are only 450k eligible voters in RVN then, "magic of democracy"). For ease of reference, I will take 1954 as the benchmark, or to be specific, Jan 1954, when the preparation of Viet Minh (effectively the armed forces of DRVN then) is being re-done for Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Personally, short of having some military actions (as in boots on the ground) against DRVN, it will be hard for a surviving RVN. Note, it can also be the deployment of special forces and saboteurs (which happens IRL). However, in the context I'm talking, it should be deployment of US Airborne (or equivalence) in Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Having a less catastrophic failure in DBP (and later, in Man Yang Pass) will give the France (and their financier, the US) more leeway on the negotiation table. Perhaps a "fuck no" to referendum. And while they are at it, make a thinly veiled threat for a deployment of nuke (it was nothing more than small talk IRL).

Assuming that the Geneva Accord still goes on as RL (maybe the DMZ is on 15th parallel, the US and the State of VN still do not sign the Accord), future-RVN would be in a much better position. However, things are still hung in balance for them.

First off, Diem MUST NOT show any discrimination against any religions, accidentally or not. The crisis of 1963 must be avoided, because it is what push multiple Buddhism monks into the supportive stance of NLF (more commonly known as VC in the West). In addition, to increase the success chance, Diem should launch false-flags operations, using (fake) Buddhism monks to antagonise areas that already supportive of NLF, this would definitely deteriorate the relationship between the two (though it should be done with care and ease, Buddhism has been in Viet Nam for nearly 1000 years, so by existence, the NLF has more in common with Buddhism, compared to a Catholic gov of RVN.

Then, political stability. This also includes the US ceasing some (or preferably, all) of their command of their troops to RVN. Having direct combat forces from foreign countries is a major selling point of NLF to point out that the RVN is a puppet regime. If Diem can put all US forces under his command (which consists of just US "advisors" in 1954~1960), it would help, a bit. There are also other factors, such as economic equality, the control of economy and finance carried out by Chinese ethnicity, or (again), religion discrimination.

Third, under no circumstances, accepts the bombing of DRVN. As long as DRVN is bombed by USAF, the game will be lost to the US. Bombing the country will not pushed the civilians to rise up and riots, they will simply make them more determined to fight back, even if the reason is vengeance. In order to have this, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident must NOT happen. Good luck with that with the Red Scare in the US.

*******************************

Personally, though, the US can "win" by having FDR living for a few more years and NOT having Truman in power. This is 1945 we are talking about.
 
Lets look at the facts. The United States provided material aid to South Vietnam, not unlike the Soviet Union and China. It also provided training support, something the other communist states also did.
However, during the whole war, no communist state sends direct combat troops to support Viet Nam. The most you have are:
  • 300k Chinese troops (in total) working as engineers and builders to shore up the infrastructure in DRVN. This is over the course of a few years, and the term used is "rotation" (which implies some have done it for more than 1 year and counted at least twice)
  • 14 North Korean KIA while volunteer to sortied against the USAF (this is late 60s, early 70s)
  • A few Soviet Air force advisors and instructors accidentally meet the USAF on the air. The most "serious" case I know of is one Soviet instructor takes control of the plane (a MiG, not sure which designation) and just evades. He is sent back to USSR immediately
Meanwhile, on the other hand, to support the Saigon regime, you have combat troops from US, South Korea, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand... The total support from them also exceeds the support of the communist countries to Viet Nam.
 
Ok, this is more or less my musing, less debate backed up by any credible research papers (news, historical shows, documentaries, articles, journals...). it may or may not recycle the ideas already posted in this thread.

As mentioned on page 3 (or 4), someone defines the "win" condition for the US is to have an existing "Republic of Vietnam" with a permanent division, making the two countries de facto independent states. Kind of like Taiwan and PRC, or DPRK and RoK at the moment.

The RVN, officially speaking, starts its existence in 1956 (on a direct violation against the Geneva Accord of 1954, but the State of Viet Nam did not sign the Accord, the violation is legally accepted) with a referendum. The one that Diem wins against then-king Bao Dai with a 600k votes in favor of him (Of course, let's butterfly and ignore that the fact that there are only 450k eligible voters in RVN then, "magic of democracy"). For ease of reference, I will take 1954 as the benchmark, or to be specific, Jan 1954, when the preparation of Viet Minh (effectively the armed forces of DRVN then) is being re-done for Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Personally, short of having some military actions (as in boots on the ground) against DRVN, it will be hard for a surviving RVN. Note, it can also be the deployment of special forces and saboteurs (which happens IRL). However, in the context I'm talking, it should be deployment of US Airborne (or equivalence) in Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Having a less catastrophic failure in DBP (and later, in Man Yang Pass) will give the France (and their financier, the US) more leeway on the negotiation table. Perhaps a "fuck no" to referendum. And while they are at it, make a thinly veiled threat for a deployment of nuke (it was nothing more than small talk IRL).

Assuming that the Geneva Accord still goes on as RL (maybe the DMZ is on 15th parallel, the US and the State of VN still do not sign the Accord), future-RVN would be in a much better position. However, things are still hung in balance for them.

First off, Diem MUST NOT show any discrimination against any religions, accidentally or not. The crisis of 1963 must be avoided, because it is what push multiple Buddhism monks into the supportive stance of NLF (more commonly known as VC in the West). In addition, to increase the success chance, Diem should launch false-flags operations, using (fake) Buddhism monks to antagonise areas that already supportive of NLF, this would definitely deteriorate the relationship between the two (though it should be done with care and ease, Buddhism has been in Viet Nam for nearly 1000 years, so by existence, the NLF has more in common with Buddhism, compared to a Catholic gov of RVN.

Then, political stability. This also includes the US ceasing some (or preferably, all) of their command of their troops to RVN. Having direct combat forces from foreign countries is a major selling point of NLF to point out that the RVN is a puppet regime. If Diem can put all US forces under his command (which consists of just US "advisors" in 1954~1960), it would help, a bit. There are also other factors, such as economic equality, the control of economy and finance carried out by Chinese ethnicity, or (again), religion discrimination.

Third, under no circumstances, accepts the bombing of DRVN. As long as DRVN is bombed by USAF, the game will be lost to the US. Bombing the country will not pushed the civilians to rise up and riots, they will simply make them more determined to fight back, even if the reason is vengeance. In order to have this, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident must NOT happen. Good luck with that with the Red Scare in the US.

*******************************

Personally, though, the US can "win" by having FDR living for a few more years and NOT having Truman in power. This is 1945 we are talking about.
I think its interesting you picked 1954 as your divergence date. I fear the situation at Dien Bien Phu was lost. During that battle, the Viet Minh were able to procure many heavy anti-aircraft guns which stopped any resupply efforts in real life. If you decide to drop the Airborne into a mountainous area under heavy artillery and antiaircraft fire surrounded by the enemy, the logistical demands of the garrison be increased from an already strained situation. The defenders of Dien Bien Phu were already sitting ducks and had little way of fighting themselves out of that situation.
The crisis of 1963 happened because the government wanted their flag to be raised higher than the Buddhist flag to show national authority. That is no different to how the United States flag has to be the highest flag on a flag pole.
This article from 1968 talks about the 1963 crisis. You can start on page 10. As I said previously, Diem did give preferential treatment to Catholics but he didn't oppress Buddhists as much as the media makes it out to be. He built many pagodas and encourage the development of religion as a tool to fight communism. I'm of the opinion that had Diem crushed the Buddhist, he would have controlled the country will few long lasting ill consequences like Thieu did later.
Diem strongly opposed the deployment of US armed forces. He said it was a Vietnamese war and should be fought by Vietnamese only with US material and financial support. Had Diem survive, there would be no need for the influx in troops as the military situation was stable under Diem with regards to the insurgency.
Regarding the bombings, the US could win but only if they commit to their bombing as they did in Linebacker. Rolling Thunder went on for three years and was largely ineffective since it was too restrictive in regards to military targets. That burned a lot of political will for the US government which then wanted to bomb the North again in 72. Bombing should only resume when the North decides to mount an offensive.
 
As I said previously, Diem did give preferential treatment to Catholics but he didn't oppress Buddhists as much as the media makes it out to be.
Diem had no hatred of "Buddhism". His campaign of suppression targeted "sects" that opposed him.
 
However, during the whole war, no communist state sends direct combat troops to support Viet Nam. The most you have are:
  • 300k Chinese troops (in total) working as engineers and builders to shore up the infrastructure in DRVN. This is over the course of a few years, and the term used is "rotation" (which implies some have done it for more than 1 year and counted at least twice)
  • 14 North Korean KIA while volunteer to sortied against the USAF (this is late 60s, early 70s)
  • A few Soviet Air force advisors and instructors accidentally meet the USAF on the air. The most "serious" case I know of is one Soviet instructor takes control of the plane (a MiG, not sure which designation) and just evades. He is sent back to USSR immediately
Meanwhile, on the other hand, to support the Saigon regime, you have combat troops from US, South Korea, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand... The total support from them also exceeds the support of the communist countries to Viet Nam.
That is true. However, I don't think the presence of allied forces is enough to make the claim that the government was a puppet state. Allied forces were similarly present in West German, Korea, and Japan. However, I do agree the presence of allied forces at a level beyond advisory was the biggest mistake of the war. The United States decided to push the South Vietnamese aside and to conduct most of the operations themselves. This in turn led to a less experienced army with less experienced officers. It helped fuel VC propaganda that Saigon was a puppet of Washington. It also burned the political will to fight for the people at home which led to the ultimate collapse of South Vietnam. The United States decided to go with Search and Destroy tactics and tried to "engage the VC" in a decisive war ending battle. This was the completely wrong way to approach the war. However, what I want to say is when the United States began to implement Vietnamization, the war took a turn. South Vietnamese forces began to take the brunt of the fighting and did so with good success on the battlefield. Not only that, the government regained control of the countryside and the VC were largely destroyed.
 
I think its interesting you picked 1954 as your divergence date. I fear the situation at Dien Bien Phu was lost. During that battle, the Viet Minh were able to procure many heavy anti-aircraft guns which stopped any resupply efforts in real life. If you decide to drop the Airborne into a mountainous area under heavy artillery and antiaircraft fire surrounded by the enemy, the logistical demands of the garrison be increased from an already strained situation. The defenders of Dien Bien Phu were already sitting ducks and had little way of fighting themselves out of that situation.
I never say jump into DBP (though considering the absurdity, it might help that the USAF deploy mass bombing, the same they pull during WW2). Tactically speaking, dropping them into the jungle and the hills surrounding DBP (where the artillery platforms of DRVN/Viet Minh and the supply line goes) would work. Combined with a "small" landing on Thanh Hoa (where a lot of supply and materials) begin would do the trick.

But then, this is official boots on the ground in 1954, and I don't think US had the needed force (I'd say an Airborne division dispersed over multiple targets/landing zones, and a leg Infantry division for the landing, minimum) at handed.

Regarding the bombings, the US could win but only if they commit to their bombing as they did in Linebacker.
I or II? Because seriously, II would be more effective (as in killing more and damaging more).

Btw, thanks for the document, this would be an interesting read
 
Options.

1. Keep it small, avoid killing Diem and relearn COIN and train the ARVN in it.

2. Go big in the South after starting the process of relearning COIN. Stage spoiling incursions by air and/or land into the North.

You want to beat insurgents you need to relearn population centric strategies and the war of the flea. You want to compel North Vietnam to come to the peace table that is a different matter.
HR Haldemans notes are now a matter of public recored; if Nixon had not derailed the Paris peace talks Johnson had the war "won" after Tet. South Vietnamese enlistment rates went up massively as did the percentage of men actually showing up when they were drafted. After the US survived Tet the population of the South began to view the government as legitimate, something that we lost when we had Diem killed (a friend of mine ran all CIA operation in South Vietnam for a few years.. he retired to New Zealand). No overture from Nixon offering a sweeter peace to Ho, they negotiate a settlement.
 
South Vietnamese forces began to take the brunt of the fighting and did so with good success on the battlefield. Not only that, the government regained control of the countryside and the VC were largely destroyed.
You are... technically correct. The ARVN had the support of Navy and Air force (the second is what helps them to win to Summer Offensive 1972, especially the B52 bombing runs). Pound for pound of a plain normal, regular infantry (which means "main force", so auxiliary, military police, garrison or local guerilla are not considered), of the NLF/NVA still has better chance of winning (assuming equal weaponry, number and intel)
 
Diem had no hatred of "Buddhism". His campaign of suppression targeted "sects" that opposed him.
I don't disagree with that view. The question is how much political infighting becomes too damaging for the survival of a newly born republic?
Since the start of Diem's regime, he had to politically maneuver to get rid of private militias, mafias, and French-aligned generals. The United States expected Diem to work with all these people who had different interest (many of whom were corrupt and engaged in criminal activities including opium trading) and allow them to have their own private armies. Had Diem let them do that, how stable would his regime be to let private militias exist in the capital? When factional warlords can stroll in and coup him at any minute? A newly formed government needs a consolidation of power to be effective. When Diem did that, Eisenhower green lighted his removal. This was cancelled at the last minute because Diem succeeded. You can read this in the book Misalliance. The North similarly carried out purges, eliminated landlords, and other non-communist nationalist to solidify their power.

Similarly, later CIA reports that analyzed the militant Buddhist factions said that they wanted to remove all Catholic officials, regardless if they were with Diem or not. Later governments tried to negotiate with them and failed majorly. Later, Thieu would get rid of them and there was no later ill consequences from that in the later years of the republic. Had Diem been allowed to do that, the South would not have become a power vacuum.
 
No Watergate, Nixon is able to keep logistics and air support going to the RVN. With the collapse in Chinese-Vietnamese relations coming, South Vietnam will make it.
Nixon never had an intention to win the war.. his intention was to make a show of it, and conclude an "decent interval" peace with the North that ultimately sells out the South in a way he can blame the democrats for. The last appropriation from the congress for South Vietnam was half of what Nixon requested, but also roughly twice what the South requested.. Nixon could blame the democrats for the loss since they did not approve his inflated ask.. and they only did that because he was already paying for the war at that point with printing money which was driving inflation and putting us at odds with NATO allies.
 
You are... technically correct. The ARVN had the support of Navy and Air force (the second is what helps them to win to Summer Offensive 1972, especially the B52 bombing runs). Pound for pound of a plain normal, regular infantry (which means "main force", so auxiliary, military police, garrison or local guerilla are not considered), of the NLF/NVA still has better chance of winning (assuming equal weaponry, number and intel)
However, this is not true. In the following 1973 to 1974 years, during engagements without US firepower (and before the aid cut took drastic effect on the South Vietnamese firepower, they beat back the communist in large battles.
 
I never say jump into DBP (though considering the absurdity, it might help that the USAF deploy mass bombing, the same they pull during WW2). Tactically speaking, dropping them into the jungle and the hills surrounding DBP (where the artillery platforms of DRVN/Viet Minh and the supply line goes) would work. Combined with a "small" landing on Thanh Hoa (where a lot of supply and materials) begin would do the trick.

But then, this is official boots on the ground in 1954, and I don't think US had the needed force (I'd say an Airborne division dispersed over multiple targets/landing zones, and a leg Infantry division for the landing, minimum) at handed.



I or II? Because seriously, II would be more effective (as in killing more and damaging more).

Btw, thanks for the document, this would be an interesting read
Both were much more effective than Rolling Thunder ever was. Linebacker I was necessary for Linebacker II to be effective since the North Vietnamese had to use up their supplies and ammunitions in great numbers to repel American attacks and rebuild infrastructure.
Alternatively to your Dien Bien Phu idea, I would recommend instead moving troops into take Hanoi and Haiphong and other major cities of the Red Delta. Throughout the war, this region was secured by the French forces. In addition, there was a large anti-communist Catholic force within this region. You could make a enclave belonging to South Vietnam here and force the communist to stay in the countryside.
 
Nixon never had an intention to win the war.. his intention was to make a show of it, and conclude an "decent interval" peace with the North that ultimately sells out the South in a way he can blame the democrats for. The last appropriation from the congress for South Vietnam was half of what Nixon requested, but also roughly twice what the South requested.. Nixon could blame the democrats for the loss since they did not approve his inflated ask.. and they only did that because he was already paying for the war at that point with printing money which was driving inflation and putting us at odds with NATO allies.
That is actually not true. Nixon actually believed more in South Vietnamese than any other president. His Vietnamization policy was a success and should have been enacted sooner. Johnson in fact wanted to get out of the war entirely and leave the South to fend for itself. Of course, by 1973, the Americans no longer had the will to fight a long protracted war, so Nixon had to accept the terms of the peace treaty. He promised to back the South with US airpower if the North Vietnamese breached the agreement. When the North started to roll in more trucks and supplies and troops on the Ho Chi Minh trail (breaking the Paris Accords), Kissinger recommended the resumption of bombing and Nixon was for that. However, Watergate happened and Congress turned against him. They passed the Church-Case Amendment, which prevented him from using military force in Indochina without Congress's approval. Had Watergate not happened, or he had burned the tape or just admit instead of covering up, he could have kept America's word to the South Vietnamese. In fact, Nixon was popular before Watergate happened.
 
If we seriously list every single engagement (define as platoon level of 30 men and up), we might have a clear-cut answer on the effectiveness of Vietnamisation program on ARVN (I'm in engineering department, so I work with numbers to analyse a problem, sue me). Furthermore, I focus more on operational and strategic layer (rather than single battle). Operation Lam Son 719 (1971) sees "operational failure of RVN" (according to Wiki), which can be classified as a victory/success for NVA/NLF. Summer Offensive 1972 is more inconclusive, but by the end, the NVA/NLF gains more territory and diplomatic pressure.

Alternatively to your Dien Bien Phu idea, I would recommend instead moving troops into take Hanoi and Haiphong and other major cities of the Red Delta. Throughout the war, this region was secured by the French forces. In addition, there was a large anti-communist Catholic force within this region. You could make a enclave belonging to South Vietnam here and force the communist to stay in the countryside.
Because Ha Noi and Hai Phong are still secured by French in 1954, I don't envision the US troops landing there. In order to counter the DRVN/Viet Minh attack in DBP, it is better to cut off their supply line, which is why I propose regular US troops landing on Thanh Hoa as well as dropping into the jungle. If you play your cards correctly, you might win the battle (at the cost of serious international geo-politics), intra-Vietnam speaking, you win DBP by keeping it in French hands, you will make the whole First Indochina War less of a shitshow for France
 
This is a mistaken idea. South Vietnam was not willing to sign in 1968 with or without Nixon.

Uncle Ho had lost power years ago. What are you even talking about ?
The South would have signed. I was using shorthand when referring to Ho to refer to the North. As I understand it much of the South's position regarding signing in '68 was posturing, if the North had come to the table Johnson could have convinced them to sign.. think good cop, bad cop.... no Nixon, you get a peace deal and probably a German style reunification in the 90's
 
Nixon never had an intention to win the war.. his intention was to make a show of it, and conclude an "decent interval" peace with the North that ultimately sells out the South in a way he can blame the democrats for. The last appropriation from the congress for South Vietnam was half of what Nixon requested, but also roughly twice what the South requested.. Nixon could blame the democrats for the loss since they did not approve his inflated ask.. and they only did that because he was already paying for the war at that point with printing money which was driving inflation and putting us at odds with NATO allies.
Also regarding the last appropriation. General Murray, who was head of the Defense Attache Office (MACV renamed) requested for 1.126 billion dollars which wouldn't be enough to cover for lost or damaged equipment. Keep in mind in his analysis, if the South only got 600 million in aid, Congress should write South Vietnam off as a bad investment. Congress decided to make all of the costs of Vietnam into one fund which included the DAO. The DAO cost around 200 million a year and Congress gave out 700 million dollars. So doing the math, the actual South Vietnamese military would get only 500 million, way less than General Murray's numbers. You can read this in Black April: The Collapse of South Vietnam
 
That is actually not true. Nixon actually believed more in South Vietnamese than any other president. His Vietnamization policy was a success and should have been enacted sooner. Johnson in fact wanted to get out of the war entirely and leave the South to fend for itself. Of course, by 1973, the Americans no longer had the will to fight a long protracted war, so Nixon had to accept the terms of the peace treaty. He promised to back the South with US airpower if the North Vietnamese breached the agreement. When the North started to roll in more trucks and supplies and troops on the Ho Chi Minh trail (breaking the Paris Accords), Kissinger recommended the resumption of bombing and Nixon was for that. However, Watergate happened and Congress turned against him. They passed the Church-Case Amendment, which prevented him from using military force in Indochina without Congress's approval. Had Watergate not happened, or he had burned the tape or just admit instead of covering up, he could have kept America's word to the South Vietnamese. In fact, Nixon was popular before Watergate happened.
I remember how popular Nixon was, I am old enough. Vietnamization was not practically possible pre Tet, Diem had credibility as a "founding father" but so much of a murdering rat bastard that he was non viable and the government we installed after was not seen as having legitimacy.. but after the Tet offensive was repulsed it was believed the "mandate of heaven" was with the US and people started showing up for induction and actually enlisting.. it totally changed the mindset. As I recall, and it has been a few years, the enlistment rates went up 1400%. Without that sea change in morale you could not pull off the policy.
 
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