A Study of Strategic Lessons Learned in Vietnam
Volume VI
Conduct of the War
Book 1
Operational Analyses

TABLE OF CONTENTS


FOREWORD
iii
PREFACE
v
TABLE OF CONTENTS
xiii
LIST OF FIGURES
xxiii
LIST OF TABLES
xxv
LIST OF MAPS
xxvii
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
EX-1 to EX-19

1. US AID AND ADVICE (1950-1960)
Page
A. Introduction
1-1
B. MAAG Indochina
1-1
1. The Beginning
1-1
2. Early French Experience
1-2
C. Giap's Big Gamble Fails in 1951
1-3
D. The Navarre Plan Leads to Dien Bien Phu
1-4
1. Navarre vs. Giap
1-4
2. Radford vs. Ridgway
1-8
E. To Learn From the French or Not?
1-10
1. July 1954
1-10
2. Learn What?
1-11
3. Why Not Solicit Advice?
1-12
4. The Results
1-14
5. Would the French Really Have Helped?
1-15
6. A Final Word
1-17
F. MAAG-V Builds RVNAF
1-18
1. The French Depart
1-18
2. The US Assesses the Problem
1-18
3. Early Disagreements
1-19
4. Why the More Conventional Approach?
1-20
5. RVNAF Tested
1-21
G. Contrasts: PLAF vs. RVNAF
1-26
H. An Unsolved Dilemma: The Two-Faced Coin
1-27
I. Three Views on the Issue
1-28
J. Summary Observations
1-30
K. Summary Analysis and Insights
1-31
L. Lesson
1-32
Appendix
1-35

2. THE COUNTERINSURGENCY ERA (1961-1965)
A. Introduction
2-1
B. A New Drummer and New Music
2-2
1. The Changing Scene
2-2
2. The Beginnings (?) of Counterinsurgency
2-3
3. Force Expansion
2-4
4. The Special Forces
2-5
5. The Experts
2-6
C. The First Issue: Counterinsurgency Concept - Valid or Not?
2-6
1. Flexible Response
2-6
2. The Name of the Game
2-8
3. The Insurgency Catches Fire
2-9
4. ARVN at Ap Bac: What Happened?
2-15
5. Diem, Nhu, and JFK Murdered
2-18
6. Taylor and Westmoreland Take Charge
2-20
7. Hop Tac (Cooperation)
2-22
8. Other Major Military Events in 1964
2-24
9. Implications
2-27
D. Issue #2 (Why Counterinsurgency Failed)
2-27
1. RVN Shortcomings
2-28
2. US Failures
2-29
3. The Enemy
2-32
E. Insights
2-32
F. Lessons
2-33

3. AMERICA TAKES CHARGE (1965-1968)
A. Introduction
3-1
B. The Opposing Strategies: East Versus West
3-2
1. Contrasting Cultures (Chess vs. Wei-Ch'i)
3-2
2. Genesis (A Brief Review)
3-3
3. The USA (The West)
3-8
4. The Geo-Strategic Position in January, 1965
3-14
5. The Dang Lao Dong Strategy
3-16
6. US Strategy
3-16
7. The Basis of the US Strategy
3-18
C. The Marines and Cavalry Win
3-20
1. The Enclaves
3-20
2. Amphibious and Airmobile
3-21
D. Attrition: Ours and Theirs
3-25
1. Why Attrition?
3-25
2. The Enemy Attrites Too
3-27
3. The Killing Paid Off for Whom?
3-30
4. The Balance Sheet
3-34
5. What Did the US Army Generals and Colonels Think About the Strategy and Tactics Used in Vietnam?
3-40
6. Any Alternatives to Attrition?
3-43
7. Some Alternatives
3-44
E. Americanization of the War: RVNAF Gets a Breather
3-80
1. At the Expense of RVNAF
3-80
2. The US Role
3-82
3. An Interesting Speculation
3-83
F. No Tit for Tet
3-83
1. A One-Shot Spasm?
3-84
2. Some Questions
3-84
3. The Enemy Debates
3-84
4. The Decision
3-85
5. Giap Spells it Out
3-86
6. The Enemy's Aim
3-87
7. Intelligence Failure?
3-88
8. Giap's Military Scheme
3-90
9. The VCI and Local Forces Lead and Die
3-91
G. No Kudos for Khe Sanh
3-94
1. Why Khe Sanh?
3-95
2. Some Problems
3-98
3. Was Khe Sanh To Be Giap's 2d Dien Bien Phu?
3-101
H. Follow-on Operations
3-122
1. The Relief of Khe Sanh: Operations Pegasus/Lam Son
3-123
2. The A Shau Revisited: Operation Delaware/Lam Son
3-124
3. Protecting Saigon: Toan Thang (Complete Victory)
3-126
I. The Wave of the Future
3-128
1. A proposition
3-128
2. Some Problems
3-128
3. Khe Sanh and the Future
3-129
4. A Final Thought
3-131
J. Analytical Summary
3-132
K. Insights
3-133
L. Lessons
3-135
Appendix
3-137

4. THE US PHASES OUT (1969-1972)
A. Introduction
4-1
B. The Transition Period
4-3
1. Changing Presidents
4-3
2. Changing Commanders
4-3
3. The Enemy Was Hurting
4-3
4. GVN and RVNAF Bounce Back
4-5
5. Reassessment at MACV
4-6
C. Two New Strategies
4-8
1. Hanoi's Strategy
4-8
2. Washington's Strategy
4-13
D. Fight-Talk: Our Way and Theirs (Issue #2)
4-15
1. The Name of the Game
4-15
2. The Lao Dong Approach
4-16
3. Washington's Approach
4-23
4. The War and Peace Cycle in Saigon
4-30
E. More Battles and Leaders
4-42
1. Purpose and Focus
4-42
2. Cambodia
4-43
3. Laos and Lam Son 719
4-54
4. Easter 1972 (The Nguyen Hue Campaign)
4-74
F. Summary Analysis and Insights
4-99
1. Overview
4-99
2. Insights
4-100
G. Lessons
4-101

5. RVNAF STANDS AND FALLS - ALONE (1973-1975)
A. Introduction
5-1
B. The Paris Agreements
5-2
1. The US Perspective
5-2
2. The North Vietnamese Perspective
5-3
3. The South Vietnamese Perspective
5-5
4. The Legacy
5-6
C. The North Vietnamese Position After Paris
5-9
1. Allies
5-9
2. Economy
5-10
3. Military Position
5-11
4. Political Objectives and Perceptions
5-13
5. Strategy and Action
5-14
D. The South Vietnamese Position After Paris
5-16
1. Allies
5-16
2. The Economy
5-18
3. Military Position
5-18
4. Political Objectives and Perceptions
5-22
5. Strategy and Actions
5-24
E. The Last Campaign
5-26
1. The Balance of Power, 1975
5-26
2. The Test: Phuoc Long
5-30
3. The Final Days
5-31
F. Insights
5-42
1. The Enemy
5-42
2. South Vietnam
5-44
3. The United States
5-48
G. Lessons
5-49

6. AIR OPERATIONS
A. Introduction
6-1
B. French Air Power in the First Indochina War
6-2
1. An Overview
6-2
2. Close Air Support
6-3
3. Helicopters
6-4
4. Naval Aviation
6-4
5. US Dilemma at Dien Bien Phu
6-5
C. The Vietnamese Air Force
6-6
1. Genesis of the VNAF
6-6
2. Vietnamization
6-7
3. The Ending
6-8
D. The American Air War In Indochina
6-9
1. The Changing Objectives of Airpower
6-9
2. Major Constraints
6-11
3. Command and Control
6-13
4. Types of Missions Flown in South Vietnam
6-15
5. The Psychological Impact of Air Operations
6-24
6. Illustrations of Air Support in Two Campaigns
6-26
E. The "Out-Country" Air War in Indochina
6-29
1. The Air War in Laos
6-29
2. The Air War in Cambodia
6-41
3. The Air War in North Vietnam (DRV)
6-48
F. Meaning for the Future
6-61
1. Application to Europe
6-61
2. Airpower in a Limited-War
6-66
G. Analytical Summary and Insights
6-72
1. The French Period
6-72
2. Fractionalized Command and Gradualism
6-73
3. On the Brighter Side- SAR
6-74
4. A Matter of Image
6-74
5. The Growing Importance of Air Power
6-75
6. Out-of-Country Operations
6-76
7. Interdiction
6-78
8. Some Observations
6-79
H. Lessons
6-80

7. BLUE AND BROWN WATERS
A. Introduction
7-2
B. The Early Days
7-5
1. The French Influence
7-5
2. The Vietnamese Navy Comes Into Being
7-9
3. Operation Passage to Freedom
7-10
4. The Junk Force
7-12
5. From Dinassaut to RAGs
7-13
C. Vietnamese Marine Corps
7-13
1. The Reasons Behind the Organization
7-13
2. Evaluation of the Role of the VNMC
7-14
D. Market Time Closes One Door
7-15
1. The Problem
7-15
2. The Vietnamese Navy (VNN)
7-15
3. Operation Market Time: A Plan for Action
7-17
E. Amphibious Assaults
7-19
F. Riverine Warfare: Back to Our Civil War
7-24
1. The Mobile Riverine Concept: A Joint Army/Navy Operation
7-24
2. Operation Game Warden
7-27
3. Rivers, Canals and the Rung Sat
7-28
4. Tested at Tet
7-30
5. The Southeast Asia Lake, Ocean, River and Delta Strategy (Sea Lords)
7-30
6. The Future of Riverine Warfare
7-32
G. Return of the Seabees
7-34
1. Mobile Construction Battalions
7-34
2. Seabee Teams
7-36
H. The Brown Shoes of Task Force 77
7-38
1. Aerial Bombardment of North Vietnam
7-38
2. Tactical Air Control
7-40
3. Mine Warfare in Vietnam
7-45
I. The Cruiser-Destroyer Force
7-48
1. Naval Gunfire Support
7-48
2. Operation Sea Dragon
7-50
J. Logistic Support Force
7-50
1. Fleet Support
7-51
2. Country-Wide Support
7-52
3. Inshore and Inland Waterway Operations Support
7-56
4. Seabees and Naval Mobile Construction Battalions
7-56
K. Summary Analysis and Insights
7-57
L. Lessons
7-61
Acronyms Used In Chapter 7
7-63

8. UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE - DELETED

BIBLIOGRAPHY
B-1 to B-19

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