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[The Vietnam War]
Describe why the factors which allowed the North Vietnamese Communist to win a war against a far wealthier, technologically superior power of the US.
Strategy & Tactics
Vietnamese Terrain Advantages
The Vietnam War is classed under Cold-War military conflict due to the political cause for the war. The conflict was fought between North Vietnam, reinforced by the communist allies and South Vietnam, supported by the US and some anti-communist countries. The military conflict mainly occurred in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from the 1st of November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on the 30th April 1975. Figure 1 shows the countries on opposing sides of the war
* South Vietnam * United States * South Korea * Australia * Philippines * New Zealand * Thailand * Khmer Republic * Kingdom of Laos * Spain * Taiwan
| * North Vietnam * Vietnam * Khmer Rouge * Pathet Lao * Soviet Union * China * North Korea * Czechoslovakia * Cuba * Bulgaria
The U.S. government justified their involvement in the war as a way to prevent the spread of communism to South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese government viewed the conflict as taking what is theirs from the French, later backed by the U.S and South Vietnam itself. Introduction
Despite the far wealthier and far more superior powers of the U.S. North Vietnam managed to capture South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, meaning a decisive victory. In this report the factors that lead North Vietnam to victory will be describing each factor in detail.
During the Vietnam War there was a great imbalance of the logistical problems on opposing sides. The American forces were facing difficulties with supporting combat forces. Not only did they need to support American soldiers but also the military forces of South Vietnam, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Australia and other allied countries. The U.S had over 16,000 km of supply lines that was quite ineffective; it was costing over 200 billion U.S dollars to maintain this supply of food, water and weaponry*. This massive amount of war cost were only realised around the closing of the war. This in addition with the mounting U.S causalities and the fact that victory remained elusive, the American opinion moved from approval to dissatisfaction with the War. The Communist forces however, had little to no worry about logistics, many portions of their supplies originated from themselves or from China. The supply routes were shorter and much more organized. The support made by the Chinese railway network in the Chinese provinces bordering North Vietnam was also a vital importance in importing war material. The American did not strike this network for fear of Chinese intervention, however approximately 320,000 Chinese soldiers served the communist forces in repairing and upgrading miles of track, bridges, tunnels and stations. This made the supply chains cheaper and more effective, creating a major factor that lead to the decisive victory of communist forces. Figure 2 shows the U.S defence expenditure during the Vietnam War Figure 2 shows the U.S defence expenditure during the Vietnam War
A key factor that leads to the communist takeover of South Vietnam was the numbers of causalities that they were willing to accept. The tolerance showed by the communists was comparably better than the anti-communists, in particular the U.S. The North Vietnamese ideology was very well summed up by a quote by North Vietnamese icon, Ho Chi Minh: “You can kill ten of my men...
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