The war in Vietnam.
Summary.In February 1965, President Johnson ordered Operation Rolling Thunder - a massive bombing campaign against North Vietnam.He sent US troops - 500,000 by 1969 - to fight in Vietnam.In November 1965, General William Westmoreland, the US commander, lured the North Vietnamese Army (NVA/vietcong) to attack a force of American troops at Ia Drang, then destroyed the attackers with a massive air strike.In 1968, the CIA started Operation Phoenix, arresting, interrogating and killing suspected Vietcong activists.Despite this, the Americans could not succeed in driving the Vietcong out of the rural areasIn January 1968, the NVA launched the Tet Offensive, capturing a number of towns in South Vietnam.The North Vietnamese lost 45,000 men, including many officers. Their morale was damaged - the offensive proved that they could not defeat the Americans by direct attack.It took the Americans a month to recover the towns. Their confidence was badly shaken. They won the Tet Offensive, but realised that they would never defeat the Vietcong.
They fought a guerrilla war, ambushing US patrols, setting booby traps and landmines, and planting bombs in towns. They mingled in with the peasants, wearing ordinary clothes. The Americans couldn't identify who the enemy was. They were supplied with rockets and weapons by China and Russia. They used the Ho Chi Minh Trail - a jungle route through Laos and Cambodia - to supply their armies. The Americans couldn't attack their supply routes without escalating the war. Their tactic was "hanging onto the belts" of the Americans - staying so close to the Americans so they could not use air or artillery backup without killing their own men.
America's They fought a hi-tech war, using B52 bombers, artillery, helicopters, napalm and defoliants (Agent Orange). This killed many innocent civilians, and failed to stop the Vietcong guerrillas. They forced the peasants to leave Vietcong-controlled areas and made them live in defended strategic hamlets in loyal areas. This created immense opposition, and allowed Vietcong infiltrators into loyal areas. American troops were sent on patrols, then supported by air and artillery when attacked. This demoralised the soldiers, who realised they were being used just as bait. Search and destroy patrols went out looking for "Charlie", as they called the Vietcong. But the patrols were very visible, and easy to ambush. This led to atrocities such as "zippo raids" to burn villages, and the unprovoked massacre of peaceful villagers at My Lai in 1968.
As part of your revision, think about the arguments and facts you would use to explain: What the nature of the Vietnam conflict was. How effective the Americans were in their attempts to defeat the Vietcong's guerrilla tactics. Whether this statement is true: "The Vietcong's tactics helped them to defeat the Americans; the Americans' tactics merely helped them to lose."