About the myth that U.S. lost in Vietnam because they fought with conventional warfare?
For my Vietnam War college course I had to do a book review for a book titled On War by Harry G. Summers.
In his book Summers dispells many conventional wisdom of the Vietnam War as huge myths.Among this was the myth that America lost Vietnam because we tried to fight a conventional war there!
According to Summers when America was in Vietnam, we actually spent more time developing and using counterinsurgency principles rather than actually using the basic military principles and theories.
So thus for this thread here is the topic:
According to Summers it was a huge myth tha America spent to much time on conventional warfare .Rather much of the operations in Vietnam were aimed for counterinsurgency!Summers stated that the NLF and the problem of counterinsurgency was never something U.S. had a hard time dealint with.He goes as far to say that the NLF was already mauled too badly by the end of the war to continue operations!Summers states that much of the so called "Conventional Set Piece Battles" were actually counterinsurgency operations designed to mop up and destroy NLF units and pacifications projects to win the hearts and minds of locals!
Here come the big part:Summers state that America was blind to the true enemy:The NVA!Summers criticizes American military and political command for spending too much time on creating counterinsurgency theories and counterinsurgency operations instead of realizing the true enemy was the conventional forces of North Vietnam!Summers states instead of trying to destroy NLF the U.S. should have left that duty to the ARVN alone and not take part in it. Summers seriously believes that the U.S. forces should have instead concentrated on fighting the NVA units and finding a way to protects South Vietnam from NVA units being able to enter it!
Summers goes far as saying we should have occupy the other Indochina states such as Cambodia and destroyed NVA sacnutaries there. He believes had we done that the war would have been much shorter and we would have needed as much troops and equipment we used in the war!Summers states by controlling the other Indochina states we could have blocked NVA routes into South Vietnam and we could have destroyed NVA units that were stationed there!
Overall Summers states had we actually focused on fighting the NVA and on conventional warfare principles rather than wasting time fighting the NLF insurgents(which Summers state is the government of South Vietnam's responsibility not our) and had we realized that the NVA was the true enemy not the NLF or insurgency we would have left with a victory!
- 9 years agoFavourite answer
I know 17 Vietnamese that would disagree. The most would come from a 20 year ARVN Officer. Well into his 70's and still wanting to remove the family jewels of John Kerry for being a liar! His War College was up close a very personal, his knowledge is what I trust. Hard to argue with a guy with that much actual time in the grass
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda does not count in history. As another stated TET 68 was the biggest factor in getting the north to Paris. The US press reporting opinion vs fact lead to politics kicking in.
Politics...pure and simple was the bigger problem! The north had been bombed into submission, they were down 2 full generations of military age men, TET 68 decimated the NLF and the Hue City Massacres turned the south against the north with a overwhelming vengeance. The US Congress refusing to do as promised in 75 lead to the norths successful take over...the Soviets and Chinese did not stop supplying them.
If you had just the slightest idea what took place in Saigon in May 75 you would know why the Vietnamese here HATE the idea of communism so much. HATE to the point of me having to pull Helen away from beating 2 men speaking Vietnamese with northern accents....just a few years ago.
- Noah HLv 79 years ago
When the technology of resistance exceeds the technology of occupation the occupier loses. (Afghanistan and IEDs) That's one factor. When the expense of an occupation exceeds any possible return on investment the occupier loses. (American War of Independence) That's another factor. When the occupier's public begins to express effective resistance to a continuation of the occupation withdrawal is certain. (Vietnam) Another factor. The time factor is not to be discounted...the occupied country can fight forever. The occupier will eventually lose. (The British occupation of Ireland. While still in play after 400 years the fight goes on.) There are many moving parts to losing a war where an occupation is involved. Economic, social, military and, political factors tend to favor the resistance. Of course a totally ruthless occupation, such as the Roman occupation of Gaul and Britain can last for centuries as long as the occupier can maintain the economic costs. Russia failed to maintain control of Afghanistan because of the expense and the continual resistance of the people....a few thousand Stinger missiles helped for certain and other western help, but even without that the end game would have been the same...just over a long time period. As once said of the Mongols...they could win all the battles, but they couldn't govern so they resorted to simply killing everybody. As the US wasn't inclined to kill EVERYBODY the war in Vietnam ended with US withdrawal.....Afghanistan and Iraq are probably next for the same reason.
- RossLv 49 years ago
there were 2 main reasons we lost the war. 1 was politics which screwed us up big time. when the NVA would attack the politicians would say we can't chase them on the Ho Chi Minh trail because it went through Laos. other things too because the politicans became very unpopular during the war and were framed as baby killers. the second thing was that Vo Nguyen Giap studied The Art of War a lot and used many of his tactics and was very succesful in doing so. the NVA never won a major battle against the US, but he never planed to. his strategy was to just hid, jump out and attack. and then retreat before we could do much damage. he used a lot of deception in military tactics too. he attacked khe sanh heavily to make us think we would attack there again. but then he launched the Tet offensive so we wouldn't know what to expect. then he would keep up his gurrilla tactics and retreat before we could do much damage to them. he basilcy kept the war going on just by keeping a large military presence everywhere. thier leadership was supprior. Gen. Westmoreland was comanding his troops like a chess game though where you have to have a clear objective to play chess. but Vo Nguyen Giap played a chinese game of go where you take the most territory with the least number of troops and keep it a guessing game for your enemy
- DonLv 69 years ago
At the time of the Vietnam war the USMC was the only service with experience in the insurgency environment. The Army Generals that knew the key to this type of warfare was mobilization of the population were not picked as Commander of U.S. forces but General Westmoreland whose training and thinking was for battle with the Soviets of the plains of Germany was chosen. This shows you the politics of the hierarchy of the military, its not what you know but w2ho you know.
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- Anonymous9 years ago
The US military did not lose Vietnam. Politicians back home without the balls to move forward lost Vietnam.
"Six months more and it would have been sure victory. We were on the way to winning the war when Washington made us come home." - US Marine Brigadier General (who was Recon as well in Vietnam).
As far as conventional war, yes there were areas of conventional warfare. But then there was napalm... and a guy down my block who literally crawled along the jungle floor to kill enemy sentries in the Army (I think he was a Ranger, not sure).
- Anonymous9 years ago
how does the conventional bombing campaign against North Vietnam fit into your COIN image?
even doctrinally "regular" units are capable of fighting "irregular" warfare... much more if those are light infantry like the NVA.
give or take, you cannot possibly even talk about the regular warfare in jungle conditions, IMHO.
regular warfare was equal to combined arms even back then... it was thought out this way in the WWII,after all.
if YOUR enemy chooses the irregular warfare, you have to adapt. you CANNOT fight conventional war against irregular enemy. you are losing the initiative.
fight fire with fire.
US lost the war because of its home front, not because failures in the field.
- lestermountLv 79 years ago
The North actually wanted to make peace after the Tet offensive, where they were completely destroyed, and most of their forces were killed.
However, Johnson refused because he wanted a complete victory.
Johnson was the person responsible for making the war last so long and costing American lives.
The loss of the South was due to Congress refusing to fund the South after the U.S. withdrew, if you remember there was a peace treaty where the North promised to stop fighting.
In fact the Nobel prize was given in response to this peace, even if it was a false peace.
- Pete TLv 79 years ago
Arm chair quarterbacks abound.Source(s): 100% disabled Vietnam vet
- NaughtumsLv 79 years ago
We lost Vietnam because we weren't trying to win, only to maintain the status quo.
- Love.CanadaLv 79 years ago
getting involved was the mistake....
one of many