Vietnamization

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Under Richard Nixon, the process of "Vietnamization" was started in the later stages of the Vietnam War. The idea was for the South Vietnamese Army to start taking over the tasks of national defense as the US Military withdrew its troops. It was undertaken because of domestic dissatisfaction with the war and seen as the best way to get our troops out the quickest and still maintain a sense of mission. Ultimately, it failed. The SVA was unable to counter the last offensive by the north in 1975 and the country fell to the communists. In addition to U.S. troop withdrawals and efforts to prepare and modernize the South Vietnamese army, Nixon's Vietnamization strategy also featured programs designed to strengthen the South Vietnamese government and expand its political base in rural areas. He offered U.S. assistance to help South Vietnamese officials organize local elections and implement social reforms and economic development initiatives. At the same time that the Vietnamization plan was put in place, however, the Nixon administration also escalated U.S. military activity in other parts of Southeast Asia. In April 1970, for example, the president secretly authorized bombing campaigns and a ground invasion of neutral Cambodia. When his expansion of the war came to public attention, Nixon asserted that the incursion into Cambodia was necessary to keep pressure on the enemy until the Vietnamization strategy took root. The president's actions nonetheless came under harsh criticism and prompted massive anti-war demonstrations across America. While the antiwar movement in the US was pleased with Nixon’s efforts at détente with communist nations, it was inflamed in 1969, when news broke about a massacre at My Lai (March 18, 1968). Tension grew further when, following a change in stance by Cambodia; the US began bombing North Vietnamese bases over the border. This was followed in 1970, with ground forces attacking into Cambodia, a move viewed as expanding the war rather...
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