US Victory in Vietnam

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.



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
I agree Lam Son was a failure. But you must look at the reasons why. The commander of that operation Hoang Xuan Lam wasn't an aggressive commander who could command a large scale operation. Thieu replaced him with General Do Cao Tri, one of the best generals in South Vietnam (nicknamed South Vietnamese Patton by Americans) who commanded the successful Cambodian Incursion. However, General Tri died in a helicopter crash when flying to take command. They replaced him with General Nguyen Van Minh, who was also a less aggressive commander. Furthermore, Saigon didn't commit its armored reserve or additional reinforcements into the battle, They chose to keep aggressive units in firebases rather than out fighting, This made those troops sitting ducks to the communist. The defeat at Lam Son wasn't due to bad soldiers, it was due to bad leadership. Furthermore, the US cared more about its lives than the South Vietnamese. Many times, the South Vietnamese received no air support due to a US downed pilot in the region. I didn't discuss Lam Son because previous you talked about a scenario without US air support. If Lam Son is ok to talk about, then so should the 1972 Offensive.

Yes, South Vietnam lost land in the 1972 offensive, especially at the borders. This isn't a surprise, because South Vietnamese forces were spread thin throughout the country (800 mile long border I believe). It's no surprise that some land would be lost in full-scale invasion. Yet, the South Vietnamese held out at An Loc, Kontum, and Hue which were major battles between South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese divisions. They lost Quang Tri during the initial rout (General Lam was removed from command and replaced with General Truong). General Truong stabilized the situation at Hue and counter attacked and pushed the North out of Quang Tri. They only stopped recapturing land due to the Peace Agreement being signed. Those battles shouldn't be invalidated due to the presence of US air support. US airpower without troops is nothing. The Ho Chi Minh trail's existence is proof of this. Furthermore, the advantage of airpower evens the battlefield because the North Vietnamese had superior artillery firepower (longer range guns) that made allied force's own artillery guns defenseless.

Remember, what were the North Vietnamese objective? To destroy South Vietnam in one blow. They expected the people of the South to rise up in massive numbers, but that didn't happen. In fact, over 100,000 men enlisted that year to fight for the South. The Battle for An Loc was crucial because had the city fell, the communist would be only 22 miles away from an armored push into Saigon.
 
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
Murray way over estimating.. that is why Vietnam post war made a handy sum exporting US gear including F-5's... congress no longer had any faith in the numbers coming out of the Pentagon.
 
How do you know ? Nixon did not make up their minds, they just weren't willing to sign and kill themselves.

This is a a bizarre assessment. The North would have only attacked harder.
The North would have literally did what they did in 1975.
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.
I don't wish to attack your credibility sir. However, military reports from generals at the time of Diem indicated the military situation was stable and Vietnamization was already underway. It only stopped after Diem got deposed and US troops got installed in 1965. What you said about support for the government is true however. The survival of the South Vietnamese during Tet solidified President Thieu's power and support. The population turned against the communist for disrespecting an agreed ceasefire on a major traditional holiday. Furthermore, the massacre at Hue showed that the evil of the communist forces which helped convince the people that the Southern government was the lesser evil. Before that, the governments between Diem and Thieu had little legitimacy and support among the people.
 
How do you know ? Nixon did not make up their minds, they just weren't willing to sign and kill themselves.

This is a a bizarre assessment. The North would have only attacked harder.
Not a bizarre assessment at all.. they threw EVERYTHING they had into Tet and got F all nothing for it. No Nixon showing weakness by dangling a sweeter peace deal down the road and the South screaming like a banshee for Northern blood.. Johnson acts as the calm/good cop at the table. But you have Nixon.. so the North doubles down.
 
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Murray way over estimating.. that is why Vietnam post war made a handy sum exporting US gear including F-5's... congress no longer had any faith in the numbers coming out of the Pentagon.
That simply isn't true. In 1973, the aid to the South Vietnamese was around two billion. This is a 75% percent reduction in military aid. The South Vietnamese had to cut their firepower almost 75% cause of ammunition shortages. The soldiers were limited to 80 rounds of ammunition a week. Air force sorties were cut and artillery guns were limited to three rounds a day. These cuts were very real and proved fatal to the South Vietnamese. Also, the F-5 debacle was a real thing. The United States military had promised to buy expensive fighter planes (F-5E) for the South Vietnamese. Yet, in the budget of Congress, Congress didn't pay for this so the Vietnamese had to pay for it, which was something they couldn't afford. You can read this on wikipedia or in the Black April book.
 
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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.



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
In addition, I forgot to mention in most battles the ARVN were outnumbered the communist forces. I also forgot to mention the last battle of the Vietnam War which proved that the South could fight. There were three NVA divisions against a single ARVN division at Xuan Loc in April 1975. By this time, the war was almost over and the South Vietnamese knew they were gonna lose. Yet, they held out for two weeks and inflicted massive casualties on the communists who outnumbered them. No US support as requested.
Most of the battles I list aren't platoon level battles. They're all regiment level and above.

Or if you play your cards wrong, you would get cut off and murdered. Dien Bien Phu was the entire thing you just described. The French dropped paratroopers in to sever communist supply lines only to get trapped and slaughtered. The risk of an operation is too great. It is better to push out from areas you control and pacify the nearby regions.
 
Remember, what were the North Vietnamese objective? To destroy South Vietnam in one blow.
Yes. This is the General Offensive line, brought to supremacy by Giap post Tet. Giap was opposed to the General Offensive / General Uprising line which led to Tet but was made to eat the big bowl of dogshit.

They expected the people of the South to rise up in massive numbers, but that didn't happen.
If you are referring to 1972, which you appear to be, no they did not. This is entirely the point of the General Offensive line in 1972: to preserve political cadre and PLAF formations regardless of the result of the offensive. Despite Giap's second fall from grace, the line *did*not*change* in relation to the 1975 offensive.

yours,
Sam R.
 
The population turned against the communist for disrespecting an agreed ceasefire on a major traditional holiday. Furthermore, the massacre at Hue showed that the evil of the communist forces which helped convince the people that the Southern government was the lesser evil. Before that, the governments between Diem and Thieu had little legitimacy and support among the people.
Not sure I've heard any ppl claim that there is anonymity created due to an attack on a holiday. But let's say it happens. Personally, those Vietnamese would need to check on Emperor Quang Trung in 1789 and the Americans on Washington crossing the Delaware river. Unless there is an official document, signed by both sides, on a ceasefire, war is fair game.

Regarding Hue Massacre, it is still inconclusive at the moment, Vietnam denies their part in the so-called massacre. A recent (ie: this year) historical shows on VN TV cites the words from a NVA/NLF veteran, that he and his comrades/units are warned by their officers, that the statues in the imperial sections are "very life-like", so one needs to check fire before they pull the trigger. If they pay that attention to preserving the culture, they surely should have better discipline on preserving the life of the civilian.

The whole situation is made murkier with urban fighting (where there is no total evacuation of the civilians, and I'd like to emphasize, urban fighting is its own hell) and the (eventual) deployment of heavy firepower by the US.

Remember, what were the North Vietnamese objective? To destroy South Vietnam in one blow. They expected the people of the South to rise up in massive numbers, but that didn't happen. In fact, over 100,000 men enlisted that year to fight for the South. The Battle for An Loc was crucial because had the city fell, the communist would be only 22 miles away from an armored push into Saigon.
Less "destroy the whole regime in one blow" and more "make them de-escalate by giving them a bloody nose". Summer Offensive consists of 3 smaller/sub-operations (in Central Highland, in Middle Coastal land, and in Southern delta. The third one is termed "Operation Nguyen Hue" (and the western news only consider the first part, Battle of Loc Ninh here, at least from a quick glance in Wikipedia). The bloodshed of Quang Tri is in the first sub-operation.
 
The North would have literally did what they did in 1975.

I don't wish to attack your credibility sir. However, military reports from generals at the time of Diem indicated the military situation was stable and Vietnamization was already underway. It only stopped after Diem got deposed and US troops got installed in 1965. What you said about support for the government is true however. The survival of the South Vietnamese during Tet solidified President Thieu's power and support. The population turned against the communist for disrespecting an agreed ceasefire on a major traditional holiday. Furthermore, the massacre at Hue showed that the evil of the communist forces which helped convince the people that the Southern government was the lesser evil. Before that, the governments between Diem and Thieu had little legitimacy and support among the people.
Yes... but Diem and his brother were waaaay to much with the death squads for them to be viable in the eyes of the Kennedy administration and had to go.. As I said I have a friend who ran CIA operation in the area for a time (if you want to look him up his name is Walter Macintosh, he is heavily quoted in Time magazines most recent piece on the war and by that I mean they wrote one within the last four years on it), his opinion was that killing Diem was a real set back that was probably not thought through enough. Kennedy did NOT want to be associated with the man or this tactics even in the slightest way. Leave him in power and he becomes a serious political liability at home and abroad and his tactics are also likely to breed a popular backlash.
 
In addition, I forgot to mention in most battles the ARVN were outnumbered the communist forces. I also forgot to mention the last battle of the Vietnam War which proved that the South could fight. There were three NVA divisions against a single ARVN division at Xuan Loc in April 1975. By this time, the war was almost over and the South Vietnamese knew they were gonna lose. Yet, they held out for two weeks and inflicted massive casualties on the communists who outnumbered them. No US support as requested.
The same source you provide (Wikipedia) also says that the ARVN has air support (which the NLF/NVA doesn't)

ARVN
- 18th Division (infantry)
- 5x Armor Brigades
- 4x Battalions (regional force, so light infantry)
- 2x Artillery battalions
- 2x militia Companies
Later, including (reinforcement on 12/4)
- 1st Airborne brigades
- 3x Armor brigades
- 8th Task force (seemingly equivalence to a regiment)
- 3rd and 5th Air force division

NLF/NVA
- 3 divisions
- 1x AA regiments
- 2x sapper regiments
- 2x armor battalions
- 2x artillery battalions
- 2x regional force battalions

The total odd at XL is 20k attackers vs 12k defenders. Not sure if this is before or after the reinforcement. Vietnamese wiki cites 25k defenders.
So, despite the claim, the numerical in XL is closer than you think. And I'd say the defenders have the edge in firepower, thanks to the air force (might be mitigated by AA units though)
 
That simply isn't true. In 1973, the aid to the South Vietnamese was around two billion. This is a 75% percent reduction in military aid. The South Vietnamese had to cut their firepower almost 75% cause of ammunition shortages. The soldiers were limited to 80 rounds of ammunition a week. Air force sorties were cut and artillery guns were limited to three rounds a day. These cuts were very real and proved fatal to the South Vietnamese. Also, the F-5 debacle was a real thing. The United States military had promised to buy expensive fighter planes (F-5E) for the South Vietnamese. Yet, in the budget of Congress, Congress didn't pay for this so the Vietnamese had to pay for it, which was something they couldn't afford. You can read this on wikipedia or in the Black April book.
As I said the congress no longer had any confidence in the numbers coming from the Pentagon and they also had to contend with increasing inflation at home.. Do you recall the French sending a warship to New York in 1971 to collect their gold on deposit there? That is a direct result of Nixon running the printing press to pay for the war.. as was the massive interest rates later in the decade to halt that inflation. Congress did its own estimations and I have generally taken them as closer to factually accurate in light of Nixons tactics that have come to light in the last 25 years or so including being quoted talking about doubling the estimates so that he could blame the democrats.
 
Kennedy did NOT want to be associated with the man or this tactics even in the slightest way
Tactics didn't bother JFK, he greenlit what the CIA was doing in Guatemala, after all.

He didn't like that he was getting bad press. Monks burning themselves up on film was very bad press.
JFK did not like bad press. That's why he had to go. He just didn't expect to coup to be so bloody and clownishly carried out.
 
That is a direct result of Nixon running the printing press to pay for the war.
Or that the French saw a really great way to arbitrage some money out of the US. Deep cracks were in Bretton Woods in 1968, before Tricky Dick had a chance to fire up those presses.
Federal Reserve Swaps rocketed from under $3BUSD in 1965 to over $10BUSD in 1968. Inflation was increasing from under 2% on 1965.
 
There is photographic evidence of the Huế massacre, you know.

It's interesting, however, that Western sources speak of its existence while Vietnamese sources either give mention that a small amount of people were killed, or none.
 
There is photographic evidence of the Huế massacre, you know.

It's interesting, however, that Western sources speak of its existence while Vietnamese sources either give mention that a small amount of people were killed, or none.
So pretty much the wartime version of Tiananmen?

What I heard was that the VPA/Viet Cong hunted down the "class enemies" they'd already made lists of and singled them out for killing when they came to town.
 
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
On signing a treaty in 1968, while the general consensus was the South would support and agree to a treaty at that time it was also true that they had become more demanding and were pushing rhetoric towards a harder line towards the North since Tet. And as they had the support to do so they didn't give many hints that what they were now demanding was negotablile so much like the North's treatment of American prisoners it appears to be a bit of internal politics that has an exagerated effect on external politics. The North backed away from the talks and the South then couldn't "lose-face" by backing down itself and frankly Johnson and the American's mostly didn't have a clue.

This in and of itself helped lay the groundwork for the future in that it painted the new South government as hard-line and aggressive to the North and the North as weakened and faltering to the South. Meanwhile it was clear to everyone IN Vietnam that Tet had major effects on American opinion and support but mostly no one there understood why, (we "won" after all so why should we act like we lost???) or what the longer term effects would be. Probably due to allies and having an actual better understanding of how American's thought the North was quicker to grasp the shift than the South. Arguably that makes sense since the South saw nothing but 'good' outcomes to Tet and if you squint you can see the shift in American support as being more confident in the South's government and people.

When the most trusted voice in your 'world' tells you the war, a war which isn't being conducted like any 'war' you know, can no longer be won it doesn't matter what your head tells you in your heart you TRUST that voice and his opinion. And then you look at the plain fact that this 'war' is in fact tearing YOUR society apart and is it any wonder that most of your support drops away? At this point there's no reasonable way to keep the US involved enough to 'guarantee' a future peace, we just wanted out.

Nixon was elected on the promise to end the war, (with "honor" for the hawks) but withouth America either in person (troops on the front lines of the DMZ like Korea) or by threat (and that meant more than just air support which may or may not arrive on time, if at all) then the South is on borrowed time. But in 1968 this isn't clear so the percieved 'need' to sign a treaty with what appears to be a 'weak' North is pretty much nil beside the US wanting them to do so.

Vietnam was a 'mess' in all senss of the word for the US mainly and arguably the Vietnamise in many ways. For the US we need only look at WE WILL NOT DICUSS CURRENT POLITICS to see that any "lesson learned" from Vietnam has either been forgotten or ignored. I'm hoping that Vietnam can learn from the rest of the world, (including the US) that learning to accept your past, warts and all, is what ensures your future.

Randy
 
I return to my original concept and premise. The creation of a "McNamara Line" blocking the Ho Chi Minh trail and cutting off infiltration from the north may well have been the path - and the only path - to victory as I defined it.
I think many in the military were resisted this approach because it sounded like the Maginot Line and it was a static defensive approach and return to the dreaded positional warfare of WWI. But positional warfare has gotten an unfair rap due to the Maginot Line fiasco. In fact, for a power with control of the air and large scale artillery firepower, positional warfare is very very viable because it forces the enemy to concentrate its forces which gives a juicy target to your firepower. The stronger and deeper the defensive line, the more time you will have to pound away at the enemy as they pick their way through minefields, barbed wire, tank traps, sensors, etc. I think we should have considered this in Europe during the Cold War - I was in North Germany once wandering around and noticed that the border was one double strand barbed wire fence out in the middle of no where. At Ratzeburg we were advised not to go too far East on the lake because the East Germans would fire on us if we tried to go back to the Western shore. There was literally no armed presence.
 
So pretty much the wartime version of Tiananmen?
not really. Most of the killed and arrested in the 1989 crackdown were socialist workers.

Hue targeted right wing opponents of a Leninist party. The NFL and VWP had compiled relatively selective death lists, and implemented them. I’m assuming the disgust is a western liberal reaction and an RVN propaganda point due to the mass nature. Assassination and execution were common place from both civil governments in the south.
 
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