- Feb 2009
- Eastern PA
In 1966 the MaNamara plan was search and destroy missions accompanied by overwhelming air and artillery combined with extensive bombing campaign in N. Vietnam. Nixon acknowledged the public pressure and started Vietnamization, that is American withdrawal combined with shifting of the combat burden to S. Vietnamese forces.Surely a war plans were elaborated. Are they available to the public? Or maybe is too soon.
McNamara's plan was an unvoiced statement that the S. Vietnamese government was a corrupt, ineffective minority entity, comprised mainly of holdovers from French colonial era who had regard for the Buddhist peasant majority population which meant that the national government only controlled about 25% of the country, in both land and population. A vital point from that split meant that the American military was nor viewed as allies when they were in most of the countryside, rather they were looked upon as foreign invaders. The impact of that was huge. Most of the mistakes committed by the American military stemmed from that fact, both in operational issues and planning. Therefore, the much maligned body count plan was pretty much the sole viable option, the old "Bleed 'em dry" option. After the Hanoi government demonstrated that they were willing and able to keep their nation convinced to absorb the horrific casualties, there really wasn't another option available to the Americans, but the ensuing withdrawal was significantly delayed by a reluctance to be the people in charge at the time of defeat.
It wasn't until the last 20 years that I realized exactly how much the government and press failed to inform us exactly how unreliable the S. Vietnamese government really was and exactly how little of S. Vietnam considered themselves part of the nation. It should have been obvious with all the TV coverage that much of S. Vietnam was actually "Indian Country", but those who should have been responsible for pointing out that simple analysis let us down. And most of us really did not discern that on our own.