Ever wonder what went wrong in Viet Nam, and why we had to lose enough soldiers to fill half of Neyland Stadium, not counting the wounded. Nor the ones suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.
French Indo China
France considered Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, as their possession. When France fell at the beginning of World War II, power was released to the Japanese. A freedom fighter, who eventually took the name HO CHI MINH worked with the American OSS to interfere with the Japanese occupation. When an American Pilot was downed over French Indo China, it was highly possible he would be saved by one of Ho’s groups.
On 9/2, 1945, Japan surrendered. In Saigon, violence between rival Vietnamese factions and the French forced martial law. The Viet Minh leaders responded with a call for a general strike.
A force of 200,000 Chinese troops arrived in Hanoi to accept the surrender of the Japanese occupiers in northern Indochina. This was before the successful Maoist revolution, and peace agreements between the Chinese, French and Vietnamese governments broke down when the Chinese left. Massacres, and famine soon followed. France seemed to have no intention of letting go. HO was a Communist supporter and the Vietnamese military force was called the Viet Minh, named after Ho Chi Minh.
After the crushing defeat of French forces at Diem Bien Phu. The 1954 Geneva Accords allowed Ho’s forces to regroup in the North. and anti-communist groups settled in the South. Ho’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam relocated to Hanoi and became the government of North Vietnam, a communist-led one-party state.
There was to be a 300-day period in which people could freely move between South Vietnam and North Vietnam. More went South than North. The nation was then partitioned leaving the nation of Vietnam out of the process.
The US position, “We shall seek to achieve unity through free elections supervised by the United Nations to insure that they are conducted fairly.”
Executions in the North, and political purges in the South widened the separation gaps in Vietnam.
Late 1959, Ho began requesting aid to the Viet Cong‘s uprising in South Vietnam. North Vietnam invaded Laos in 1959 and established the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Tipping the balance of power. By early 1965, U.S. combat troops began arriving in South Vietnam, first to protect the airbases, later to take on most of the fight, as “More and more American troops were put in to replace Saigon troops who could not, or would not, get involved in the fighting. .
As fighting escalated, widespread aerial and artillery bombardment all over North Vietnam by the U.S. Air Force and Navy began with Operation Rolling Thunder. Fearing defeat in July 1967, Ho and his government concluded the war had fallen into a stalemate. With Ho’s permission, the Viet Cong planned to execute the Tet Offensive to begin on 31 January 1968. Gambling on taking the South by force and defeating the U.S. military. The overly positive spin that the U.S. military had been attempting to achieve for years came crashing down. The bombing of Northern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh trail was halted, and U.S and Vietnamese negotiators began to discuss how to end the war.
Over simplified, but true.