Vietnam: the Unwinnable War

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The Vietnam conflict began in the late 19th Century. France forcefully took ownership of the islands and made the Vietnamese islands a protectorate of France. The Viet Minh, or the League Of Independence was formed sometime around 1940. They were a group of people seeking independence from France. The French Government opposed this action and decided to try and stop the Viet Minh from advancing their political ideals into the rest of Vietnam. In the city of Dien Bien Phu, the Viet Minh surrounded the French Expeditionary Force, and after a fifty-five day siege, the French surrendered (1). After the French pulled out of Vietnam, there was a conference held in Geneva to decide the fate of the small nation. Vietnam was divided into two parts along the 17th parallel. To the North, the Government was supported by Communist Russia and Communist China, while the Southern half had a Democratic Government supported by the United States and France. The rebels in the South, who fought against their Government, were called the Viet Cong, and they were supplied and supported by the N.V.A, or the North Vietnamese Army. Northern Vietnam's goal was to reunite North and South Vietnam through military force, and to spread Communism throughout all of Vietnam. John F Kennedy and the United States Government did not want this to happen. They provided South Vietnam with economic and military aid, but were not yet involved in the conflict, as North and South Vietnam were still engaged in a Civil War. The North Vietnamese took the United States aid as an act of war and on August 2nd, 1964, sunk a United States destroyer "Maddox" in International waters. On August 3rd, 1964, the United States began retaliatory attacks on Vietnamese ports and gunboat facilities. In 1964, two more United States destroyers were sunk, and the United States brought even more ships and planes into the area. The United States did not officially declare a state of war against the Vietnamese until August 5th, 1964. United States forces were to remain in South Vietnam and were not to cross the 17th parallel, until Feb 7th, 1965, when North Vietnamese forces attacked a major United States airbase in Bein Hoa. By the end of 1965, the number of American troops stationed in Vietnam was approximately 180,000. By the end of 1968, that number rocketed to 542,000 men (2). The role of Communism was very important in this conflict. America felt that it was its duty to fight the spread of Communism in Asia, as it wanted to deter other countries from doing as the Vietnamese had done. America was counting on a quick war that would be very easy to win, as Vietnam was a third world nation, and America was a very strong militaristic nation. However, as time passed and casualties mounted on both sides, it became clear that this was not the case. The Americans realized that this would not be a conventional war, with wide-open fields like in Europe. This would be a brutal conflict that involved dense jungles, vicious fighting, and virtually no honor. Despite the Americans numerous advantages, they could not have won the Vietnam War due to weapon neutralization, Vietnamese strategy, and a lack of morale within their own troops, and a lack of support back home.

The United States had an excellent air force when compared to Vietnam. The most widely used aircraft was the Bell UH-1 "Huey" (3). This helicopter was used in every role in the war, including gunship and medical transport. Also used were the Huey Cobra, and many other types of helicopters including the Canadian built Chinook. These helicopters were integral for scouting, evacuation, and rapid deployment. However, the Vietnamese became adept at knowing ahead of time where the perspective landing zones were going to be, and could do one of many things. First, they could lay mines around the perimeter of the landing zone, or it could be targeted for a heavy mortal and machine gun ambush. They also planted thin wires across numerous...
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