What if USA goes all out in Vietnam War?

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

  1. Jukra Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2007
    Tuborg at Uborg
    And, if the objective is to cause casualties instead of gaining ground, one must consider that too. The loss ratio of NVA/VC against US/ARVN was not actually all that bad, considering the material odds. As per Günter Levy, some 450 000 NVA/VC dead against 282000 ARVN/US/Allied deaths. AFP/TAGCEN lists 1,7 million NVA/VC WIA+KIA, 1,7 million ARVN/US/Allied WIA+KIA.

    The question arises, as for today, why does not the US woo Vietnam as an ally against China, considering history...
  2. DValdron Random human being

    Jun 3, 2009
    I'm suspicious of the notion of 'we could have won if we tried harder.' This seems to completely ignore the scale of the American effort, the sheer numbers of troops committed, the tonnage of bombs dropped, the Vietnamese forces, the allied forces, the dollars, the commitment to the theatre.

    Would a March on Hanoi do anything? The French controlled Hanoi once upon a time, and they lost it to insurgency. Would an American occupation of North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia really pacify the region, or would it just change the character of the Insurgency? Would the North Vietnamese population really acquiesce to a foreign invader?

    Would it just bring the Chinese pouring over the border, just like in Korea? Would the Chinese really tolerate American armies parked along its border? How exactly does the United States propose to stop Chinese pouring supplies and material across the Border to the North Vietnamese and Laotian resistance?

    I suppose one could carpet bomb the place with nuclear weapons and hope for the best. But that's genocide.
    Historyman 14 likes this.
  3. marathag Kicked

    Feb 2, 2013
    And the people who didn't want to be part of Communist Vietnam went south
    Indochina - Evacuation of Refugees from North Viet-Nam: Statement Released by the White House, August 22, 1954

    The cease-fire agreement which terminated hostilities in Viet-Nam provided that persons on either side of the dividing line, which is roughly at the 17th parallel of latitude, would be free to move to places of their own choice. Very soon all of North Viet-Nam, which includes the Delta of the Red River otherwise known as Tonkin, will be handed over provisionally to the Viet Minh Government of Ho Chi Minh.

    Thousands of refugees of Tonkin, fearful of being placed under the Communist yoke, are moving outward to Free Viet-Nam. The French Government has offered transport to these evacuees, and both the French Navy and Air Force are doing what they can to carry out this movement.

    The French Air Force is presently lifting approximately 3,400 evacuees a day from airfields at Hanoi and Haiphong to the Saigon area. Likewise the French Navy is carrying refugees and at the same time transporting French expeditionary forces to Saigon.

    However, the number of refugees has so increased that both the French authorities and Vietnamese Government have asked additional assistance of the United States in transporting these Vietnamese citizens who prefer to give up their homes in order to remain free.

    The United States promptly agreed to their request. The French and Vietnamese authorities retain complete responsibility for the care of Vietnamese citizens who choose to leave the Delta area. The United States is providing ships to help transport refugees and, in addition, is furnishing some tentage and other supplies to better enable the French and Vietnamese officials ashore to take care of the refugees.

    It is estimated that at least 200,000 civilian refugees must be moved from Hanoi or Haiphong before September 10.

    The Commander in Chief, Pacific, Admiral Felix Stump, has instructed the Fifth Amphibious Group of the Western Pacific Fleet to assist in the transportation from Haiphong to points in South and Central Viet-Nam a total of between 80,000 and 100,000 refugees. The majority of refugees will probably be moved by LST's. In order to help expedite this movement, however, transport vessels and commercial freighters of the Military Sea Transport Service were dispatched earlier under the command of Rear Admiral Lorenzo Sabin and are already loading refugees at Haiphong. Several thousands of Vietnamese have already been evacuated by this service.

    Fortunately, Free Viet-Nam is a country with ample land resources for the resettlement of almost any number of Vietnamese who desire to flee from Communist domination. In the rich rice lands of the Mekong River Delta and the high lands of South Viet-Nam there is surplus land where the Tonkinese farmers can reestablish new homesteads and work out new lives in freedom.

    The United States will continue to assist the Vietnamese Government, headed by Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem, in their humanitarian endeavor to bring the Vietnamese to Free Viet-Nam.

    It is noteworthy that, although Vietnamese from Tonkin are clamoring to leave the area, soon to be under Communist rule, no Viet Minh adherents from Free Viet-Nam have clamored to be transported north to settle in that area under the Government of Ho Chi Minh.

    Ho kept his Cadres in the South
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  4. Riain Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2007
    One thing I've noticed about threads like this is the assumption that the US would invade up to the Chinese border and the Chinese would smash into the US Army; just like Korea and just like US leaders didn't want.

    The US could conduct a far more limited attack on the north, keeping away from the Chinese border and withdrawing if the Chinese do intervene. Bear in mind Vietnam and its allies are poor countries and struggle to amass the hardware to fight a conventional war. A limited US invasion of the north and scorched earth withdrawal, accompanied by an offensive over the DMZ and sanctuary areas would set the communist war effort back by years, far far more than fighting in the south could do. Such a setback can give time and military circumstances for a political settlement.
    Aloha likes this.
  5. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2015
    Hanoi is divided into two main factions: the South First party led by Le Duan and the North First faction, represented by Ho Chi Minh. Le Duan controlled the totalitarian state, so his hold on power was pretty secure from military attrition in the southern war, but it might be possible that focused and conscious U.S. efforts could disrupt this control and empower the opposing faction.

    Failing that, South Vietnam needs to be made indefinitely safe from conventional invasion. The best way to do this is to extend the defensive line in the north from Dong Ha on the sea to Savannakhet on the Mekong in Laos; this would greatly shorten the length of front the allies had to defend and patrol against infiltration (170 miles vs 680), allowing them to economize on manpower. With a greater density of fortified positions to defend, they would also hopefully take fewer casualties. This would be the duty of allied forces (American, Korean, Thai) as the ARVN conduct pacification of the interior.

    There's no way the NVA are running truck relays and oil pipelines through a cordon of ~8 divisions, so the insurgency in the South would be gravely weakened. There, you can make ARVN battalions organic to problem districts, as well as pursuing something like the strategic hamlet initiative. Additionally, the problems of getting NVA into Cambodia would probably make it easier to pressure the neutralist government there to stop allowing the Communists to use the country as a base. As more and more of the country is pacified, this would free up ARVN divisions to take up places in the northern cordon and shift out Allied troops.

    Their left wing can be secured by beefing up the Thai army to about a dozen divisions; this would call for something like .75 bn$ a year in aid from the US (after the initial costs of equipment and raising formations), and only about half the annual classes of prime manpower. In the case of a conventional offensive by the NVA, they would be outnumbered by the combined allied force on exterior lines.

    If the NVA offensive has its schwerpunkt west of the Annamite range directed against RVN, the Thai's can advance up to the DRV passes and cut their communications. If it's directed against the Thais themselves, the ARVN can operate against their flanks. With the Airborne and Marine divisions in the strategic reserve, they can envelop the NVA positions north of the DMZ; putting together an ARVN armored division at some point would make this easier too. If it's east of the Annamites going straight across the DMZ, the open terrain is probably going to leave them open to just getting blasted with superior firepower, while the threat to their flanks is still going to force the NVA to detach forces from the actual offensive.
  6. Dempsey-Louis Fight Fan

    May 14, 2018
    Southwest Florida
    Linebacker II in numbers

    US claimed Loses:

    12 tactical aircraft shot down
    16 B-52s shot down
    4 B-52s suffered heavy damage
    5 B-52s suffered medium damage
    43 killed in action
    49 taken prisoner

    We had 25 downed or damaged B-52 over an eleven day period. We could not have maintained those kinds of strikes amidst those kind of loses. How many B-52 did we even have in country (Thailand)? Why do people think Linebacker II was a realistic solution to the Vietnam enigma?

    One month of that kind of warfare would have taken out enough B-52 that the nation's security would have been threatened.
  7. lionhead Pretty fly for a white guy

    Jan 22, 2007
    The Netherlands
    ... that is basically what we are talking about, yes. Although we are not ignoring the US commitment OTL, its not that it wasn't enough, its the fact it was used wrong. More tonnage of bombs was dropped on Vietnam then all of Europe during WW2, you know how big Europe is?
  8. James Ricker Own your mistakes

    Oct 29, 2016
    Boston Massachusetts
    1973 doing the Yom Kippur War tactical nuclear weapons were in the Southeast Asian theatre ready for use.
    The Soviet Union had tactical nuclear weapons in Egypt. If the Soviets had used those weapons against Israel North Vietnam would have been the target of a retaliatory nuclear strike.
  9. Orcbuster Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2017
    Still way too risky, the opinion was that any sort of invasion attack north would trigger an escalation.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
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  10. elkarlo Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2009
    Sendai Japan
    This, in many areas the war brought chaos. Why fight for some future that you'll never see due to a poorly run government and war?
    WaterproofPotatoes likes this.
  11. Seandineen Member

    Oct 20, 2005
    The stability of eternal childhood, for such is life under a dictator, is a lousy alternative.
  12. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    You've actually summed up a lot about why RVN lost.

    The core power base of the RVN government were the people who had collaborated with the French.

    This is not helpful in getting the nationalists on your side when fighting the communists.
  13. Seandineen Member

    Oct 20, 2005
    Diem didn't collaborate.
  14. sarahz Well-Known Member

    Nov 5, 2013
    Hmm well it probably ends the same way as when the Mongels, the comparable global power of their age, tried a ground/sea borne invasion in considerable force.
  15. polyharmonic Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2011
    There are examples in history of foreign forces successfully pacifying insurgency that I think the US could have tried.

    The Boer War and Phillipine-American War are instructive. But victory came because in those instances, the victor went all out including using very questionable methods. If applied in Vietnam, these methods might also work.
  16. Rufus Shinra Statistical unlikeliness

    Nov 19, 2010
    Not unless the US can reliably remove the outside help and, pro-tip, they can't unless they are willing to look back and see the Northern Hemisphere glowing in the dark.
  17. WaterproofPotatoes #TeamMahan

    Jul 17, 2018
    On the other hand, if you're starving, and Team Blue is offering you two, maybe three fish in a week, and Team Red has a fish for you right now...
  18. BigBlueBox Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2017
    Southern California
    Are you trying to imply that South Vietnam wasn’t a dictatorship? Because it was, and it was too weak, fractured and incompetent to maintain even a semblance of stability.
  19. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    In both cases, there isnt a large power friendly to the insurgents directly next door.
  20. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2015
    You think the Chinese or the Soviets are going to fight a nuclear war over an American occupation of the southern tip of Laos? Extending the defenses along the 17th parallel to Savannakhet on the Mekong would make supplying the southern insurgency much harder; they aren't going to be running truck relays and oil pipelines through positions physically occupied by allied forces. China could still get supplies to North Vietnam, but the only use for that aid would be frontal battering against a continuous and fortified front. The southern insurgency would not be able to continue without the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and allied forces would give considerably better account of themselves in conventional fighting along the 17th parallel.
    Dempsey-Louis likes this.