In South Vietnam itself, however, popular support for the war was always halfhearted, and a large segment and in some regions, a majority of the population favored the Communists. The corrupt, undemocratic and faction-riven South Vietnamese government — both under President Ngo Dinh Diem, who was assassinated in a coup, and under the military cliques that followed him — proved incapable of providing its people and armed forces a cause worth fighting for.
This asymmetry was the insurmountable stumbling block on the road to victory in Vietnam. Defeating the Communist guerrillas would have been an easy matter if the South Vietnamese people had refused to hide them in their midst. Instead, American and South Vietnamese could only grope after the elusive enemy and were rarely able to fight him except on his own terms.
And even as American soldiers began pouring into the country in , there were already enough South Vietnamese troops on hand that they should have been able to defend it on their own. After all, the South Vietnamese forces outnumbered the Communists, were far better supplied, had vastly superior firepower and enjoyed a considerable advantage in mobility thanks to transport planes and helicopters. Some years after the war ended, Lt.
Arthur S. What put the final nail in the coffin, from my point of view, was when I learned from questioning [South Vietnamese] general officers that almost without exception their sons were in school in France, Switzerland, or the U. But that would have required raising taxes, calling up the Reserves and other sacrifices that President Lyndon Johnson shrank from asking the American people to make.
In a recent New York Times article , Mr. But Johnson was the most astute politician to sit in the White House during the 20th century, and he knew that he faced a paradox. But if Johnson admitted publicly that South Vietnam could not survive without a full commitment by the United States, he knew that support would crumble. And Johnson knew full well that if the public turned against the war, it would reject his leadership and cherished Great Society domestic agenda as well.
Just about the last thing he wanted was to engender a wartime psychology — much less call for full mobilization. Although the United States undoubtedly had the means to prevail in Vietnam, the war was unwinnable at the level of commitment and sacrifice that our nation was willing to sustain. Perhaps the key lesson of Vietnam is that if the reasons for going to war are not compelling enough for our leaders to demand that all Americans make sacrifices in pursuit of victory, then perhaps we should not go to war at all.
Sacrifice should not be demanded solely of those who risk life and limb for their country in combat theaters overseas. Pribbenow in reference. Kimball in an article by Robert G. North Vietnamese forces took advantage of the growing instability, and with the abandoned equipment of the routing ARVN, they mounted heavy attacks on all fronts. The sudden and complete destruction of the ARVN shocked the world.
Even their opponents were surprised at how quickly South Vietnam collapsed. There were hundreds of soldiers, officers, and colonels who commit suicide making a decision not to live under communism. General Pham Van Phu committed suicide at a hospital in Saigon. The offensive had been driven back only with a massive American bombing campaign against North Vietnam. The Case—Church Amendment had effectively nullified the Paris Peace Accords, and as a result the United States had cut aid to South Vietnam drastically in , just months before the final enemy offensive, allowing North Vietnam to invade South Vietnam without fear of U.
As a result, only a little fuel and ammunition were being sent to South Vietnam. South Vietnamese air and ground vehicles were immobilized by lack of spare parts. Troops went into battle without batteries for their radios, and their medics lacked basic supplies.
South Vietnamese rifles and artillery pieces were rationed to three rounds of ammunition per day in the last months of the war. The victorious Communists sent over , ARVN soldiers to prison camps wherein they were routinely tortured and murdered some for a period of eleven consecutive years. The communists called these prison camps " reeducation camps ".
Thousands died from sickness and starvation and were buried in unmarked graves. The South Vietnamese national military cemetery was vandalized and abandoned, and a mass grave of ARVN soldiers was made nearby. The charity "The Returning Casualty" in the early s attempted to excavate and identify remains from some camp graves and restore the cemetery. South Vietnamese Army Operations, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Former ground forces of the South Vietnamese military. Main article: Vietnamese National Army. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. July Learn how and when to remove this template message. Retrieved 15 March South End Press. Urban Guerrilla Warfare. University Press of Kentucky. Vietnam: Explaining America's Lost War.
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Viet-Nam Bulletin. Archived from the original PDF on March 18, Retrieved October 10, McCoy Nor was there ever established a consistent and strong policy of retribution for external actors supporting the enemy. Yet no action was ever taken against either Iran or Syria. The overall objective of both Iran and Syria was to undermine the Coalition control in Iraq, and foment continued sectarian conflict to weaken the country as a future threat to them.
In addition, none of the neighboring countries assisted the Coalition in defeating the insurgents. The Gulf Arabs were slow to stop funding of Sunni insurgent groups. The Turkish government, ostensibly an American ally, was unhelpful. Jordan, with its restive Palestinian population, offered only cautious assistance. In all the Arab countries, the Sunni populations were generally hostile to the Coalition war against the Sunni Arab insurgents in Iraq.
Laos and Cambodia were sanctuaries for Communist forces, either sympathetically or because they were too weak to do anything about it. Our infrequent incursions into Cambodia were ineffective and we had no real policy dealing with this situation. At the time our responses were comic operas.
In one operation in which my unit was involved, we were told to use short fuse time on our artillery rounds, meaning that the munitions would explode above ground and before impact, to avoid craters that could be traced to U. Of course, shell fragments from airbursts could be traced just as easily. China and the Soviet Union supplied the North Vietnamese with the weapons and advisors they needed. The support they provided was immense and kept North Vietnam in the war. Meanwhile, the American air force was prohibited from bombing the Russian ships unloading supplies in Haiphong harbor.
The foreign communists also provided worldwide propaganda support for the communist forces in Vietnam and eventually were able to help influence the American public as the elite and media turned against the war. The preparatory training given advisors and trainers was brief, usually poorly done, with the trainers being dumped into a very alien environment with little or no standards of competence to work towards.
As always, culture was the dominant obstacle. The massive corruption, sectarianism, tribal and clan loyalties, as well as the seeming indifference of the Iraqis to national pride, often frustrated Western advisors. While many aspects of Iraqi culture spoiled their efforts, none proved more disruptive than the pervasive corruption in the Iraqi military. As one U. If the United States is to undertake such projects in the future, senior military officers should caution their political leaders from the onset that their path will be long, slow, and frustrating.
In the excellent U. Most advisors never really established any rapport or effective channels of communication with their counterparts. Certainly the short six-week course given at Ft.
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It was at best a superficial look at the mission of the advisor, with a few hours of language training thrown in. As would be repeated in Iraq, advisory duty was not a sought after position as it usually did not enhance the career of the officer. In both Iraq and Vietnam, advisors and trainers tried ineffectively to model their training on American military methods and values. It did not take. Western efforts to train Arab armies, without intensive and prolonged sustainment periods, have never been ultimately successful. In general, the fatalistic worldview of both the Iraqis and Vietnamese was difficult for outsider advisors to deal with.
Getting them to die for each other was another matter entirely. In his book, The Perfect War: Technowar in Vietnam, James William Gibson provided an impassioned dissection of American political and military leadership and their fixation on the latest in technology as a substitute for almost every other aspect of war. From my observations, perpetual and peripatetic motion often substituted for well thought out operational plans.
At no point in the war, even during the surge, did U. Yet, notions of a lightning quick technological victory cannot be a long term substitute for troops working hands-on with the indigenous people.
This follows in that you cannot defeat guerillas with forays into guerilla infested urban areas, to then retire to base camps as darkness falls. Continual contact with people is a critical requirement. Generally, our focus on the elusive enemy precluded that. For instance in my one year with a unit in Vietnam the only local I can recall contact with was the local barber. Oblivious to the people, we concentrated on an enemy which was often indistinguishable from the peasants in the field.
In both Vietnam and Iraq, the practice of a one year tour of duty for most soldiers was singled out as a major detriment to our efforts to effectively counter the insurgencies we were forced to deal with. This led to constant unit discontinuity and lack of combat proficiency. In some cases, this was made worse by the policy of rotating some commanders out after only six months to give others a chance to command. This would on occasion make deployed fighting men feel as if their leaders were treating the war as nothing but a training exercise.
Again the same problem surfaced in the Report , as the authors advocated keeping commanders in country for multiple years or even until the end of the conflict.
Army of the Republic of Vietnam - Wikipedia
The one-year tour policy was particularly devastating to advisory and training effectiveness. The absolute necessity of beginning to understand your Iraqi or Vietnamese counterparts, in order to become even marginally effective, is impossible with short tours, and hence the poor results of our training efforts in both Iraq and Vietnam. This of course, eventually led to massive and pervasive false reporting in that performance reports became conditioned on these metrics. In turn, this led our political and military leadership to insist that all was going well, often burying assessments from advisors that contradicted their rosy evaluations.
In one instance I recall, after our artillery strike on an enemy force which was readying an ambush, an infantry unit was sent in to do nothing more than count bodies. It was many things that led the soldiers, mostly draftees, to ridicule and distrust their leadership. I remember walking into a large building in Camp Victory, a major base of US forces in Iraq, and being struck by the large number of junior officers sitting behind laptops feeding data into their devices.
Around the top of the wall were a number of screens with a multitude of colors and diagrams which I was told were channeling information to the command group on the situation in the various districts.