Vietnamization And Its Effects

Vietnamization and its Effects
Vietnamization and it’s Lasting Effects on South Vietnam and it’s Fall
B.Vietnam — two separate countries
1.French Control
2.Viet Minh Revolt
3.Creation of North and South Vietnam
C.America’s objectives in South Vietnam
D.Vietnam’s armies
A.Beginnings of Vietnamization
B.Research of possible withdrawal
C.Decision to withdraw
1.began in early 1969
III.American Withdrawal and South Vietnamese Buildup
A.Short history
B.Advisor and troop reductions
C.Combat assiezce team reductions
D.South Vietnamese buildup
E.South Vietnamese military additions in 1972
IV.The Fall of Vietnam
A.Easter Offensive
1.Goes in to effect on January 28, 1973
C.Break of the cease fire and North Vietnamese offensive of
December, 1973
D.Final offensive in 1975
E.Resignation of President Thieu
F.General Minh assumes the Presidency
G.Minh fails in negotiations
H.Minh gives in to all North Vietnamese demands
Vietnam was a country that was far removed from the American
people until their history and ours became forever interlinked in what
has come to be known as the Vietnam conflict.It is a classic story
of good guys versus bad, communism versus freedom, and a conezt
struggle for stability.Americas attempt to aid the cause of freedom
was a valid one, but one that ended up with South Vietnam being
dependent upon us for its very life as a nation.”Vietnamization” was
the name for the plan to allow South Vietnam to ezd on its own, and
ended in leaving a country totally on its own, unable to ezd and

Vietnam was a French territory until the Viet Minh insurgency of
the late 1940’s and through 1954.Although regarding this uprising as
part of a larger Communist conspiracy, Americans were not
unsympathetic to Vietnamese aspirations for national independence.

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The ensueing defeat of the French brought an end to the first stage of
what was to be a thirty year struggle. The Indochina ceasefire
agreement (Geneva Accords) of July 21, 1954 led to the creation of
seperate statesin Laos and Cambodia, and the artificial division of
Vietnam into two republics.In the North theCommunist Viet Minh
established the democratic of Vietnam, and in the south a random
collection of non – Communist factions, led by Ngo Dinh Diem, formed
the Republic of Vietnam.The general elections provided for by the
agreement never took place, and the two states quickly drew apart.

The United States immediatly threw its support behind the southern
regime and extended military aid through a Military Assiezce
Advisory Group (MAAG) under the command of Lt. General John W.

American objectives in South Vietnam were reletively simple and
remained so — the establishment and preservation of a non – Communist
government in South Vietnam.Initally, the most pressing problem
was the weakness of the Saigon government and the danger of cival war
between South Vietnam’s armed religious and political factions.Diem,
however, acting as a kind of benevolent dictator, managed to put a
working government together, and O’Daniel’s advisory group, about
three or four hundred people, went to work creating a national army.

Slowly, under the direction of O’Daniel and his successor in October
1955, Lt. General Samuel T. Williams, the new army took shape.The
primary mission of this 150,000 man force was to repel a North
Vietnamese invasion across the Demilitarised zone that seperated North
and South Vietnam.Diem and his American advisors thus organised and
trained the new army for a Korean – style conflict, rather than
for the unconventional guerrilla warfare that had characterised the
earlier French – Viet Minh struggle. President Minh also maintained a
subeztial paramilitary force almost as large as the regular army.

This force’s primary task was to maintain internal security, but also
acted as a counter weight to the army, whose officers often had
political ambitions that were sometimes incompatible with those of
Diem.From the beginning, such tensions weakened the Saigon
government and severly hampered its ability to deal with South
Vietnam’s social and ecenomic problems.

At the beginning of 1968 the military strength of the Saigon
government was, on paper, impressive.The regular armed forces
consisted of about 250,000 men, organisedinto a conventional army,
navy, air force, and marine corps, well equipped with tanks,
artillary, ships and aircraft,Behind the regulars was a similar –
size militia – like organization, the Territorial forces.Although
consisting mainly of small rifle units, the territorials had begun to
recieve modern radios, vehicles, and small arms during the early
1960’s, and their capabilities had increased considerably.The
organization of the armed forces mirrored most Western nations; a
civialian Ministry of Defence directed a military general staff which
headed a heirarchy of operational commands and various support and
training facilities.The Territorial Forces, a formal part of the
armed forcse since 1964, was apportioned amon the forty – four
province cheifs, the principle administrators of Vietnam.In
comparison, the Viet Cong army looked pertty weak.With some
80,000 lightly equipped regulars, back by about 80,000 – 100,000 part
– time geuirillas and supported by a few thousand North Vietnamese
troops and a fragile supply line hundreds of miles long, it was hardly
an imposing force.Nevertheless, this force had inflicted a series of
defeats on the South Vietnamese troops, all but throwing then out of
the copuntryside and back into the cities and towns. Vietnamization
In the spring of 1969 Presiden Richard M. Nixon initiated his
new policy of “Vietnamization.”Vietnamization had two distinct
elements: first, the unilateral withdraawl of American troops from
South Vietnam; and, second, the assumptionof greater military
responsibilities by the South Vietnamese armed forces to make up for
that loss.Mlilitary planners had based previous withdrawl plans on
reductions in enemy forces.Vietnaminization rested on the twin
assumptions thqat the combatants would not reach any kind of political
settlement, or underezding, and that the fightinh in the South would
continue without any voluntary reduction in enemy force levels.

Although in theory the subsequant withdrawl of American troops
depended on improvements in Souh Vietnamese military capabilities and
the level of combat activity, in practice the timing and size of the
withdrawals were highly political decisions made in the United States.

Senior advisors in Vietnam were asked for their opinions on South
Vietnam’s ability to handle a Viet Cong threat, or a combined Viet
Cong – North Vietnamese threat, and their answers were for the most
part the same.They agreed that South Vietnam would be able to
“contain” a Viet Cong threat except in the III Corps Tactical zone,
wherecontinued American air and artillerary support would be needed.

Against a combined threat, however, all doubted that the South
Vietnamese could do little more than hold their own, and judged their
offensive capabilities marginal at best.Although they made no
recomendations as to how the South Vietnamese could deal with either a
Viet Cong or a combined threat, and suggested no changes in their
military organization or stratedgy, all saw a pressing need for more
air, artillery, and logistical support, and more attention to training
and retaining troops.Most recommendedmore promotions based on
merit, and more stationing of troops near home to reduce desertions.

Phasing the American troops out of Vietnam could take no less than
five years was often mentioned.The four senior advisors were hopeful
that the South Vietnamese could eventually deal with the insurgency by
themselves, but none felt that they could handle a conventional North
Vietnamese threat or a combined Viet Cong – North Vietnam opponent.

On March 5, 1969, Melvin R. Laird, Nixon’s new secretary of
defence, visited Saigon, accompanied by General Wheeler.Briefed by
the MACV (United States Military Assiezce Command, Vietnam) on the
situation in Vietnam, Laird declaired his satisfactionwith the
progress that had been made, both in the war effort and in the South
Vietnamese armed forces, and instructed Abrams (commander od the MACV)
to accelerate all programs turning over the war to Saigon. He returned
to Washington, and his determination to effect a major change in
American policy tward the war in Vietnam remained fixed.In
subsequent discussions with Nixon, Henry Kissenger (the president’s
special assiezt for national security, and the Joint Cheifs of
Staff, he pursued this goal vogorously, presently persuading the
president to embark on a policy of what he called “Vietnamization” —
turning the ground war over to the South Vietnamese.

On April 10, Kissenger, with the approval of the president,
directed Laird to prepare a specific timetable for Vietnamizing the
war.The plan was to cover all aspects of U.S. military, para –
military, and civilian involvement in Vietnam, including combat and
combat support forces, advisory personnell, and all forms of
equipment.Neither a further expansion of the South Vietnamese armed
forced nor the withdrawl of the North Vietnamese Army was envisioned.
Instead, through phased troop withdrawls, the American military
presence in Vietnam was to be reduced to a support and advisory
mission.Troop withdrawls were to begin July 1, 1969, with
alternitive completion dates of December 1970, June 1971, and December
1972.Kissenger requested an initial overall report outline by June
1.Thus, despite the divergent U.S. agencies involved in the war
effort and despite the unanimous opinion of these same agencies that
the South Vietnamese could never deal with a combined Viet Cong –
North Vietnamese Army threat, the new administration had instructed
the American military command to develop plans for turning over almost
the entire ground war to the South Vietnamese.Tward the end of 1969,
the first American troops left Vietnam, never to return.

The withdrawal of U.S. military forces from South Vietnam
continued throughout 1971 and 1972 almost without a break in stride.

American military strength passed through the residual support phase
sometime in 1971, and in April, 1972 MACV began planning for a
possable total U.S. withdrawl as early as November 1973.As american
troopsredeployed, Vietnamization, the expansion of South Vietnamese
military responsibilities, marched steadily forward.The period was
marked by heavy combat.South Vietnamese cross – border operations
into Cambodia and Laos in 1971 met stiff opposition, and in early
1972 were countered by the North Vietnamese “Easter” offensive into
South Vietnam.Fighting was intense, casualties and equipment losses
were high, and the nature of the combat was more or less
conventional.Guerrila warfare behind South Vietnamese lines was
negligable, while use of tanks, long – range artillary, and
sophisticated missles became commonplace.

As American combat units left South Vietnam and the South
Vietnamese assumed responsibility for the war, many advisors felt
their work load increasing.In September 1971, General Abrams
(commander of the MACV) directed that the current avvisory effort
focus primarily on management of support programs and revoltionary
development.The Southe Vietnamese regulars, he felt, were performing
reasonably well in the field and needed little operational advice.

Assiezce was most needed in areas of command and control, personnel,
logistics, training, communications, electronics, and in intelligence.
On the civilian side assiezce was needed in areas of local self –
defence, self – government, and economic self – development.He also
pointed out that the advisory effort was not being slighted.By the
end of the year, 66 percent of the U.S. military forces would have
left Vietnam, while the total advisory effort would have only declined
22 percent.Thiswould be primarily done by reducing the size and
number of the tactical detatchments.

The combat assiezce teams in the field had began dissappearing
even before 1972.With the exception of the airborne advisors and
some teams in the northern corps, MACV closed out all of the battalion
teams by June 30, 1971, and began phasi… out the regimental teams by
September.By the end of the year, the U.S. Army tactictle advisory
strength had fallen from 5,416 to 3,888, and MACV staff strength from
1,894 to 1,395 and many were military cadre from leaving American
units trying to complete their twelve month tours.
During 1972 General Abrams, and his successor in June, General
Fredrick C. Wayand, threw the weight of the advisory effort into a
succession of material supply porjects that enabled the South
Vietnamese to complete existing modernization programs; to make up for
heavy combat losses; to create new units, and to fill their depots
with munitions, fuel, spare parts, and other supplies.The eventual
result was a massivesea and airlift between October 23 and December 12
1972 that brought over 105,000 major items of equipment to South
Vietnam, about 5,000 tons by air and the rest by sea.

In the field of supply the most critical and the most costly
item in the South Vietnamese inentory was ammunition.In 1972, under
MACV guidance, the Central Logistics Command established a more
detailed system to moniter the status of all munitions: base, field,
and unit depot stockage; unit expenditures; and ammunition
maintenance.Unused ammunition was subject to rapid deterioriation
and had to examined periodically and , if necessary, reconditioned of
destroyed.Stockage levels in each ammunition category were critical.
Munitions stocks increased from 79,000 short tons in January 1969 to
146,900 in January 1972 and 165,700 in January 1973.However, a
normal monthly expenditure rate of 33,000 short tons, which could rise
to over 100,000 short tons per month in periods of intense combat,
made continued resupply by the United States vital.Another potential
problem was the vulnerability of ammunition dums; the enemy had
destroyed over 24,000 short tons of depot ammunition during the
Easter offensive alone.The South Vietnamese would have to maintain,
protect, and ration their existing stocks as carefully as possible.

Following the Easter offensive of 1972, MACV and the Joint Cheifs of
Staff suddenly decided that further additions had to be made.These
included two more M48 tank battalions; two additional air defence and
three more 175-mm. self – propelled artillery battallions; crews for
one hundred sophisticated antitank missle launchers; and, for the
South Vietnamese Air Force, thirteen aviation squadrons.The new air
unitsrepresented a major expansion and included aircraft for two
more squadrons of heavy CH-47, three of A-37 jet fighter bombers, two
of large C130 transports, and five of F5 jet fighters.Perhaps
anticipating some kind of agreement in Paris, the Department of
Defence agreed to ship this material to South Vietnam as soon as
possable under the code name Project ENHANCE and to raise and train
units and crews at some later date.At the same time, in order to
strengthen the territorials, MACV authorised more Regional Forces
battalions and enlarged province tacticle staffs to provide better
command and control.

To create these new units without violating the 1.1 million
troop ceiling, MACV and the Joint General Staff again made
compensatory reductions in Popular Forces strength. Fall of Vietnam It
took almost one year for the North Vietnamese to rebuild their
strength and launch their own major offensive. On March 30 1972 three
North Vietnamese Army divisions crossed the Demilitarised Zone in
northern South Vietnam, overrunning advance bases of the new South
Vietnamese 3d Division; three days later, three more enemy divisions
headed south across the Cambodian border twards Saigon, surrounding
positions held by the 5th Division in the III Corps Tacticle Zone, and
two weeks after that, two other divisions attacked the 22nd Infintry
Division in the Highlands, while smaller units struck at towns in Binh
Dinh Province along the coast.Because of the timing of the attacks,
they were quickly called the “Easter Offensive.”Through all of this,
the North Vietnamese had only won two district towns, Loc Ninh, near
the Cambodian border, and Dong Ha, opposite the Demilitarised zone, a
small showing for the heavy prices they paid.

The ceasefire agreement of January 23 1973 marked an end to the
American policy of Vietnamization. The agreement specified the
complete withdrawl of all American military forces from South Vietnam,
including advisors, and the end of all U.S. military actions in
support of Saigon.The North Vietnamese, in turn, agreed to put a
ceasefire in place, the return of Amerocan Prisoners of War, and an
end to infiltration in the South.The accord caught many American
generals by suprise, including General Abrams, the new Army cheif of
staff (Abrams had stepped down as MACV commander on June 28 1972
to replace General Westmoreland as the Army chief of staff, and the
U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on October 12).He had felt
that the United States would end up with some type of permanent ground
and air comittment similar to that in South Korea.Instead, there was
to be no residual support force, not even an advisory mission, and, in
theory, the Viet Cong and Saigon governments were to settle their
political differances at some later date.

The ceasefirebegan at 8 o’clock on Sunday, January 28 1973, and
the war ground to a temporary halt.In the sixty days that followed,
slightly over 58,000 forign troops departed South Vietnam, including
about 23,000 Americans, 25,000 Koreans, and a few hundred assorted
Thais, Fillipinos, and Nationalist Chinese.Their leaving left about
550.000 South Vietnamese regulars and another 525,0000 territorials to
face a regular North Vietnamese army that Americans estimated at
500,000 to 600,000 troops, of which about 220,000 were in South
Vietnam and the rest close by.The final U.S. withdrawals were timed
to match the release of American prisoners of war by the North
Vietnam.MACV headquarters dissolved on March 29, and three new
agencies took over it’s remaining functions.Thus ended the ill fated
American involvement in Vietnam.

In late 1973, the cease fire was broken by the sending of 18
divisions from North Vietnam into the south. This, in time, would
become one of the worst blood baths of the war.This continued
through 1975, when the enemy came to be in near Saigon, and elements
of the underground political opposition came into the open and held
meetings to voice their antigovernment feelings.The government moved
in and on March 27 1975, arrested a number of poeple suspected of
plotting a coup.On April 2 1975, the South Vietnamese Senate even
adopted a resolution holding President Thieu personnally responseable
for the detiorating situation and asking him to take immediate steps
to form a broader cabinet.It was speculated that to save what they
could, the government should send a plenipotentiary to Paris and ask
the Fench governmentto act as official intermediary in negotiations to
be conducted with the Communists.But President Thieu appeared only

Demands that President Thieu should resign and transfer his
powers at once to General Duong Van Minh were resurrected in earnest.
A coalition government led by General Minh, it was said, stood a
better chance of being accepted by the Communists; if so, more
bloodshed could be averted.On Monday April 21, during a meeting at
Independance Palace, President Thieu announced his decision to step
down.He inferred that the United States wanted him to resign, and
whether or not he consented, certain generals would press for a
replacement.As required by the Constitution of South Vietnam, he was
prepared to transfer the presidency to Vice President Tran Van Huong.
Finally, he asked the armed forces and the national police to fully
support the new president.In the evening of April 21, 1975, the
televised transfer of power ceremony took place at Independance
Palace. After President Huong took over, he immediatly went about
imposing certain forceful measures, among which was a formal ban on
all overseas travel.Servicemen and cival servants who had fled to
foreign countries were ordered to return within thirty days; if they
failed to do so, their citizenship would be revoked, and all their
belongings confiscated.The only people that the new government would
allow to go overseas were the old and the ill; they were to be
permitted to seek treatment out of the country after posting a large
bond (to say nothing of the large bribes required to obtain such a
In the meantime, the militry situation became increasingly bad.
In the afternoon of Sunday April 27 1975, the defence minister, Mr.
Tran Van Don, led a military delegation composed of general officers
of Joint General Staff and the commander of CMD in an apperance before
a meeting before both houses of Congress.By 7:30 pm, 138 senators
and representatives were present.Mr. Don summarized the military
situation: Saigon was now surrounded by fifteen enemy divisions under
the control of three army corps. The Saigon – Vung Tau Highway had
been cut, and enemy troops were advancing tward the Long Binh base.

At 8:20 pm, the General Assembly voted to hand over the presidency to
General Minh.The next day, Monday April 28, 1975 at 5:30 pm, General
Minh was sworn in as president. President Minh was much more
confident.He based his conviction of an eventual political
arrangement with the Communists on these ficts as he saw them: (1)
The Communists did not have a solid structure in Saigon – negotiations
would provide more time for solidation.(2)The provisional
government wasstrongly anti – Communist and the Communists preferred
a “two Vietnams” solution.(3)It was believed that Communist China
preferred a divided Vietnam and a unified Vietnam would pose a threat
to China’s border.Finally, “The Communists know that the people of
South Vietnam don’t like Communism.Since it is impossible for the
Comminists to kill them all, it is to their advantage to negotiate.

So he firmly believed that a government with him at the head would be
more acceptable to the Communists, and that they would be willing to
negotiate with him for a political solution.

President Minh waited in vain for a favorable word from the
other side, but none came.The response of the Communists was
omnious: they bombed Tan Son Nhut Air base the moment he was sworn in,
and shelled Saigon barely twelve hours later.Still a last ditch
effort was attempted by President Minh’s people to contact the
Communists through their representative at Tan Son Nhut.But the
answer was evasive and intimidating.It was then that President Minh
realised that all hope was gone.He gave twenty – four hours for all
U.S. personnel to leave South Vietnam.The evacuation proceeded
ferverishly throughout the night and was over at 5:00 am on April 30.
At 10 :00 am on April 30,1975, President Minh ordered the armed forces
to stop fighting, and gave in to all Communist demands.And the
Republic of South Vietname came under Communist control and no longer
existed as a free nation.

The United States policy of Vietnamization was a good idea, but
the time was not ripe for it to best be used.Saigon’s military
strength was rated by nearly all experts in South Vietnam as uncapable
of handleing a combined threat.True, Vietnamization was not what led
to the total withdrawl of troops from Vietnam, but the opinions
pressed by Lairdhad somewhat of an affect on our agreeing to sign a
ceasefire agreement.Also, if we had used Vietnamization’s program of
building up South Vietnam’s armed forces more extensively, South
Vietnam might still be in exiezce today.

Selected Bibliography
Clarke, Jeffrey J.Advice and Support: The Final Years, U.S. Army
Center of Military History, Washington, D.C., 1988
Fenton, James.The Day Saigon Fell, New Statesman and Society v4,
August 1991 Fox, Sylvan.”Vietnam Cease- Fire Goes Into Effect.”St.
Louis Post – Dispatch, January 28, 1973
“Growing Gloom in a Shrunken Land.”Time, April 7,1975, pp. 29 – 34
Keeler, Rick.Information taken from interview on March 27, 1993
Le Gro, William E.Vietnam: From Cease – Fire to Capitulation, U.S.
Army Center of Military History, 1981
MacDonald, Charles B.; Charles, von Luttichau V. P.The U.S. Army in
Vietnam, Army Historical Series: Office of the Cheif of Military
History, United States Army
“Now, Trying to Pick Up the Pieces.”Time, April 14, pp. 6 – 13
“Seeking the Last Exit from Viet Nam.”Time, April 21, 1975, pp. 14 –
Vien, Cao Van.The Final Collapse, Center of Military History, U.S.
Army, pp. 141 – 166
World Book Encyclopedia, 1967 ed. V – “Vietnam”