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The American tactics
and strategies were the main reason why the US actually lost the fight against
the Vietcong in Vietnam. There strategies when invading Vietnam were to stop
the domino effect. Tactics involved ideas like Strategic hamlets were special
villages, which had barbed wire or bamboo fence surrounding the hamlet to keep
it away from Vietcong. In the hamlets, the government had built school,
hospital, electricity, and some modern conveniences to encourage the peasants
to move in. The peasants would be provided with weapons and military training
to enable them to defend themselves. If necessary, the South Vietnamese Army,
who stationed in the region, would come to aid the hamlets. The Strategic Hamlets were
constructed as a system in which each hamlet was connected to each
other. Other ideas like ‘Agent Orange’ and Napalm both of which were considered
heavy bombing and chemical warfare. They were employed to try and clear some of
the thick jungle and the Ho Chi Minh Trail with little effectiveness. These
tactics were one of the reasons why the Americans failed as the Napalm and
chemicals in ‘Agent Orange’ alienated the Vietnamese public as these tactics
didn’t have any accuracy and usually resulted in collateral damage hitting
innocent civilians with the majority of these attacks took place on America’s
allies soil, South Vietnam. This collateral damage alienated the Vietnamese
public and so this lead to many of the public, who the Americans considered
allies, went over to the side of the Vietcong and this is why the US struggled
in Vietnam as they didn’t know who they were meant to be shooting at as they
didn’t have the information to act against the Vietcong.

With Gabriel Kolko (Anatomy
of a War: Vietnam War, and the Modern Historical Experince) This goes in hand
with the Radical Interpretation of the Vietnam War that suggests that the only
reason that America go involved in Vietnam was due to the fact that it was solely
focused on the gal of crushing any country that supported Communism or was anti-capitalist
in the way in which it ran its country. AS David L. Anderson says the
Americanisation of combat involved “a sustained and dually increasing US air
bombardment of target in South and North Vietnam” This clearly shows how the
US’ strategy was extremely destructive with no specific aim within Vietnam
apart from showing off their strength and also stopping the spread of communism
or “the domino effect”.   This meant that
the Americans went in to Vietnam with a much more violent strategy. The US did
not care about territory in Vietnam as with the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN)
launching a major attack and General Westmoreland responding with the 1st
Air Calvary Division this included the use of b-52 bombers which killed many
PAVN soldiers 10 times as many Americans but it also killed many civilians due
to the collateral damage of the strategy. This alienation of the Vietnamese
public was a major reason why they struggled to gain a foothold in Vietnam. This increased involvement within the
country of Vietnam was increased greatly after the Gulf of Tonkin incident
which led to complete US involvement within Vietnam. Although this move was
probably the only one they could take it did involve a $20 billion increase in
expenditure which was taken very badly by the US public who were quite
anti-war. Yet Mark Moyer disagrees with this as his argument suggests that this
strategy was perfectly sound but ‘what would
ultimately doom Johnson was neither the illness of the patient nor a faulty
diagnosis, but a poor choice of remedy’ (p. 416) This is criticising the reluctance of the US to put major ground forces
down in South Vietnam especially around the Ho Chi Minh trail and with this the
US’ removal of Diem from power was a grave error as this sent south Vietnam
into a power vacuum even though they had been winning the war up until this
point. This is important as it suggests that the US could’ve won the war by
utilising their technological advantage but they just didn’t have the local
knowledge to implement their power within the country. George C. Herring has a
similar view on this matter as he argues that the failure of the Vietnam War on
the part of the US was due to their lack of a clear strategy within the context
of this war as they had “no firm strategic guidance to those military and
civilian advisors,” Vietnam : Different kind of war George C Herring 1994

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