What if USA goes all out in Vietnam War?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by polyharmonic, Nov 27, 2018.

  1. Riain Well-Known Member

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    The US fought Vietnam as a 'business as usual' war, still retaining large standing armies in Europe and Sth Korea. Withdrawing these troops to fight in Vietnam leads to serious vulnerabilities. As @Galba Otho Vitelius says, Vietnam just isn't worth it.

    It had to be won with 1 hand or not won at all.
     
  2. lionhead Pretty fly for a white guy

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    Oh yes they were. The morale of the US troops stationed in Vietnam was the lowest it could get, certainly after Tet. The US troops were never able to defeat the VC and NVA militarily and failed their mission because of this. Their 'search and destroy' and 'clear and hold' missions all failed to do what they were supposed to militarily.
     
  3. polyharmonic Well-Known Member

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    But I think a large part of low morale is the restrictions imposed on how to fight it. If the US could go all out and invade and occupy North Vietnam and neighboring countries, morale might increase. Instead the US forces were constrained and couldn't take the fight directly to the enemy.
     
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  4. marathag Well-Known Member

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    After Tet and the CIA Phoenix program, VC were not an issue in the South.
    The Southern Cadres were blown out. By 1970, over 2/3rds of the VC consisted of Northern personnel.

    PAVN got it's ass handed to it in 1972 with just US Airpower, ARVN doing all the ground fighting
     
  5. lionhead Pretty fly for a white guy

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    Not neccesarily. I always say that the only way they could win was at least 1 million troops at the borderIf early in the war) and just push on through Hanoi. But its unrealistic, no country outside the US would support that, plus it would cause a reaction by China and the USSR that would certainly lead to WWIII. Next to that, the fighting it would mean, the casualties, the cruelties, i don't think morale of the US troops would be much better. Maybe at the start of it, but very soon it would drop considerably and they would need to be forced, knowing they can't stop now, in order to reach Hanoi without the casualties multiplying with every mile.
     
  6. lionhead Pretty fly for a white guy

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    Well i did say VC and NVA
     
  7. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

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    You don't even have to invade North Vietnam; you only need 8 divisions -some American, some Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese- to hold the line from the sea to the Mekong if you extend into Laos. The southern insurgents were absolutely reliant on supplies and manpower transferred down the Ho Chi Minh trail, and aerial bombardment wasn't cutting it. Then, you can use a combination of strategic hamlets, ARVN units integrated into civil districts, Phoenix program measures, and a mobile strategic reserve to starve and smother the southern insurgency. I would also think providing greater funding to the Royal Thai army could prove useful in securing the strategic flanks; their military budget was peanuts compared to our spending in Vietnam, so we could probably fund a significant expansion there.
     
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  8. RanulfC Well-Known Member

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    Lionhead wrote:
    Actually quite the opposite and in fact troop morale AFTER Tet was at an all-time high BECAUSE the VC had ‘com-out-to-ply’ and were curbs-stomped for the effort. Tet was initially a shock but quite along the lines of the Ardennes and Pearl Harbor with similar results in stiffening military resolve and morale. The US stomped the VC flat, which arguably was what the NV politicians and military wanted so they could ‘re-build’ from scratch. Any and all NVA formations that moved South were intercepted and destroyed. “Militarily” the US won every engagement they got into but as has been noted that’s very much NOT capable of winning a war if you don’t have a policy and end-goal planned as well which the US never did.

    Tet actually only ‘worked’ in a sense that it caused a general loss of confidence and support from the US civilian leadership and population which arguably should have known better. (People tend to blame Jane Fonda for ‘loosing’ the war for us but in fact it was actually Walter Kronkite telling Americans the war could no longer be won that screwed us over. Fonda was a marginal “Hollywood” star whereas Walter was someone EVERY American trusted implicitly. When someone like that tells you that you can’t “win” even if you ARE winning you lose hope. He did, we did)

    Militarily for both the VC and NVA it was a disaster but arguably, (as noted) it was far more so for the native VC groups than the NVA and worked to their advantage in the end.

    To the OP the idea that the US ‘could’ go “all out” in Vietnam is false. The US could not even do that in Korea, we had to have and depended on additional UN forces that were not really available in Vietnam. (Yes we had “allied” support but it was neither as full nor as deep as that in Korea. It couldn’t be as US policy at the time didn’t allow it since they didn’t see it as needed)

    Political and policy “goals” were never clear in Vietnam and without them you had everyone from the top down questioning why they were even there. Pile on top of that “engagement rules” and restrictions that handicapped what effort there was and a less than competent political ‘home team’ that we are supporting and the overall end effect is going to be failure. Vietnam was a ‘side-show’ and absorbed an inordinate amount of money, manpower and effort to the detriment of other US commitments.

    What’s arguably “funny/sad” is that the situation was quite clear from the beginning that the US would never ‘win’ in Vietnam unless they in fact DID commit to the conflict fully, but as noted that was in fact the one thing we could NOT do. The whole “those who don’t know history…” truism shows clearly in Vietnam because you ended up with the exact same situation that allowed the “rebel” Colonies to “win” against the British way back when.

    We weren’t ‘important’ enough to expend the required effort to subdue :)

    Randy
     
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  9. Bomster Who is the spiciest memelord?

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    U.S. going all out in Vietnam:

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. polyharmonic Well-Known Member

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    The political goal was to prevent South Vietnam from falling to Communist North Vietnam allied to USSR and China. It was to halt the expansion of Soviet client territory.

    If it were actually possible to kill all the North Vietnamese, you would achieve that goal. Of course that would mean the USA is committing atrocities and war crimes in doing so.

    I'm thinking that if the USA were willing to go to those lengths to invade North Vietnam and neighboring countries harboring North Vietnamese combatants and kill as many combatants as possible with little regard for "collateral damage", it would win the war.

    Of course it would mean the USA is fighting the war on par with Nazi or Imperial Japan levels of evil. But though it would be utterly immoral and stain the USA forever, it would win the war if it went all out in this manner simply because the opposition doesn't have enough people left to fight you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018
  11. cladglas Well-Known Member

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    focusing that tonnage on red river delta/ environs. on a counter air / sead campaign; when they come to the table, let DRV know that they are responsible for COSVN's actions & they need to be reigned in.
     
  12. cladglas Well-Known Member

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    forces other than u.s./rok in korea amounted to roughly 2&1/3 divisions. rok, alone, matched that in vietnam.
     
  13. Ace Venom Well-Known Member

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    Going all out meant World War III. No one wanted that.
     
  14. marathag Well-Known Member

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    1964
    USA had 31,308 warheads.
    USSR had 5,221
    China 1

    WWIII would still be pretty one sided, and Brezhnev knew that, despite large strides in getting ICBMs that could reach CONUS vs the Cuban Crisis.
     
  15. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Well, pretty shitty for the US anyway, not to mention Japan and Western Europe.

    But what about the obvious choice? Just bribe the Commies, just use the age-old fear of China. Offer possibility of a Yugoslavia by the South China Sea and a tacit nuclear guarantee against any Chinese invasion, maybe with placement of some minimal US forces a la Taiwan. This will be shitty in terms of human rights, but then again the entire war was.
     
  16. Rufus Shinra Statistical unlikeliness

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    The Soviets had by 1964 dozens if not already hundreds of ICBM capable of reaching the US, such as the R-16. Pro-tip for you: when you start a nuclear war with someone who can wipe out your 100 or 200 largest cities, you lose. Even if you exterminate everyone in the other country, you still lose.

    I'm going to repeat myself: war is not about murdering more people than the other side, it's about achieving political objectives, and no US political objective requires all of their large urban areas to be turned into parking lots.
     
  17. marathag Well-Known Member

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    Now do you think that Brezhnev would consider 12 to 200 US cities for nearly every Soviet metropolitan area glassed, for Uncle Ho's ambition to take over South Vietnam?
     
  18. Rufus Shinra Statistical unlikeliness

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    Depends, you are the one who went straight to the nukes to say that the war would be one-sided. If the US starts using nukes to counterbalance its conventional disadvantages, then Brezhnev will not choose to just sit there and die.
     
  19. marathag Well-Known Member

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    No, the threat of WWIII and total annihilation in 1964, LBJ gets on the Red Phone, as is blunt as he normally was, as well as a wheeler-dealer
    Carrot, and nuclear stick of burning out the entirety of the 2nd World, all because Ho wanting 'unification'. A very well defined 'Red Line'

    No, Brezhnev would deal, as he wasn't insane. All he has to do is cut shipping of Warsaw Pact Military goods to the North, and stand aside if Ho continues to be intractable
     
  20. Rufus Shinra Statistical unlikeliness

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    And what if Brezhnev calls the bluff? Because in the end, it’s a bluff as the US would get destroyed as a country in a nuclear war too, Brezh’ev knows it and he also knows Vietnam is nowhere near as critical for the US as to bet the continued existence of the US population over it.

    That’s the thing with red lines. If they aren’t credible, they just make you look like an idiot.

    And if LBJ actually fires the nukes through ASB? Then the Northern hemisphere gets an early release of the Fallout series, and the US loses. Alongside USSR, China, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Nuclear wars aren’t won: that’s their point.