Why did the USA
lose the Vietnam War?
USA soon found themselves losing their battle against stopping the spread of
communism in Vietnam.
Viet Cong and Guerrilla Tactics
Viet Cong were well supplied with weapons and equipment from China and the
USSR, but heavily outnumbered and outgunned by the South Vietnamese forces
and their US Allies.
the leader – Ho Chi Minh turned to using guerrilla warfare. The principles of guerrilla warfare
when the enemy attacks
when the enemy camps
when the enemy tires;
when the enemy retreats
Viet Cong had a huge advantage over the US troops, as they were well
adapted to their environment. They
were used to the weather
conditions, fighting in this style and living underground and in the
Viet Cong set up many traps which fooled the US troops. An example of this was that the Viet
Cong soldiers would not wear uniform.
They had no known base camp or headquarters and worked well with
the local villagers. This
relationship allowed the Viet Cong soldiers to hide in the villages and
the Us troops won’t know the difference between the civilians and the
greatest strength of the Viet Cong fighters was that they simply refused
to give in and there were always replacement troops.
US tactics in Vietnam 1965-1972
USA launched an air offensive on North Vietnam. Operation Rolling Thunder involved extensive bombing raids
on military and industrial targets.
US developed a powerful chemical weapon called Agent Orange. It was used to destroy the jungle,
which was believed to be the hide-out of the Viet Cong. Napalm was also used to destroy
jungles, unfortunately many civilians and soldiers were also killed by
were taken of the extent of the damage caused on civilians in
Vietnam. These pictures were
published in newspapers across the globe, which made there be a lot of
protests against the war, especially in America.
US launched search and destroy raids on villages and destroyed any Viet
Cong forces they found. However
there were problems with this method:
raids were often based on inadequate information;
US troops often walked into traps;
villages were mistaken for Viet Cong strongholds;
casualties were extremely high;
raids made the US and South Vietnamese forces very unpopular with the peasants;
the Tet Offensive the Americans realised that they couldn’t win the war. The Tet Offensive occurred in 1968
when the Communists launched a major offensive. Viet Cong attacked over 100 cities and other military
targets. One Viet Cong commando
unit tries to capture the US embassy in Saigon. Us forces had to fight to regain control. Even though the USA came out on top it had
a massive effect on USA morale because it surprised the USA that the Viet
Cong could surprise the USA in the way they did
The USA lost the war in Vietnam, as they could not
adapt to the style of war. US troops
were used to trench warfare and couldn’t change their tactics so couldn’t keep
up with the Viet Cong. Even though the
air raids over North Vietnam damaged North Vietnams war effort and disrupted
the supply routes the war never had public backing. After the Tet Offensive President Johnson concluded that the war
could not be won military. He announced
the process of Vietnamisation. This was
the build up of South Vietnamese forces and withdrawing US troops. Between April 1969 and the end of 1971
almost 400,000 US troops left Vietnam.