Will a WW2 style strategic bombing campaign force North Vietnam out of the war?

botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,530
Amelia, Virginia, USA
#41
Its not like "The People" decided that Saigon should fall, by the 70s there was barely even a true Vietcong insurgency left, it was primarily led and organized by outsiders (North Vietnamese). At that point, the Republic of Vietnams greatest threat was conventional military invasion from North Vietnam, which they could never get a handle on because North Vietnam was giving everything they had to victory and was being supported with as much weapons and supplies as it was possible to give by the two strongest communist countries in the world. And who did the South Vietnam have? Up until 1973, they had the US. What about after 1973? They had nobody.

That is the only reason why North Vietnam won. Because in 1974, they had a giant mechanized army, with tank regiments, lots of artillery, supply lines, even an air force. Every possible logistical or monetary need was being supplied to them by the USSR or PRC. Who did the South Vietnam have? Nobody. They were on their own, and because of the oil embargo and inflation problems, they couldn't even afford gasoline to move their forces in a war of maneuver against the invading North Vietnamese in 1975.

The only question is, why did the US stop supporting South Vietnam? It had nothing to do with defeats, it had only to do with morale and ideology. Suffice to say, enough Americans, especially in Congress and the media, were vehemently opposed to any further assistance to the South Vietnamese. We didn't just stop supporting them with ground troops, we largely cut them off from supplies, and violated the 1973 Paris Peace Accords where we promised to supply them if the North Vietnamese broke the deal (which they did). But by then, Congress had washed their hands of it, hamstrung POTUS by passing the War Powers Resolution in '73, which would forbid any long term commitment without Congressional approval (which they wouldn't give), and then when Nixon Veto'd it, they overruled his veto. At that point, Vietnam was lost, it was only a matter of North Vietnam needing a few years to rebuild their forces after getting decimated in their 1972 Easter Offensive.
Let’s say the US continues to support South Vietnam. When does the US “win”?
 
Jul 2016
9,347
USA
#42
Let’s say the US continues to support South Vietnam. When does the US “win”?
Depends on what you define as win. The objective is a free and unmolested Republic of Vietnam. There was no way to completely eradicate the communists uprising, but managing it to a lower level was possible. Then there was the invasion of North Vietnam, that was a conventional conflict and could have been dealt with through strategies typically used, which could have included a more unrestrained bombing campaign, as well as earlier interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The key was to force North Vietnam to stop directly contributing ground troops to the conflict, and supplies. They would still covertly do it, but it would be at a smaller level. Then crush the Vietcong insurgency. At that point, defend. So we'd likely to have needed to leave troops there, similar to South Korea, a few divisions worth.
 
Likes: JakeStarkey

botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,530
Amelia, Virginia, USA
#43
Depends on what you define as win. The objective is a free and unmolested Republic of Vietnam.
If that's the objective, then I think achieving that condition would be the win. But between my quotes around "win" and your reply, we both believe that wasn't going to happen.

There was no way to completely eradicate the communists uprising, but managing it to a lower level was possible.
Obviously I agree with the first part, but for a different reason. I think it was a strongly nationalist communism, which is why I don't think it could have been "managed" at all. It couldn't have been managed for many reasons, an emotional cause being just one.
South Vietnam could not be isolated the same way the peninsula South Korea could be. The North could smuggle in whatever it chose at the level it chose, always having the initiative. South Vietnam would always carry the taint of colonial collaboration, ruled by a Catholic puppet regime propped up by the US military.

Then there was the invasion of North Vietnam, that was a conventional conflict and could have been dealt with through strategies typically used, which could have included a more unrestrained bombing campaign, as well as earlier interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The key was to force North Vietnam to stop directly contributing ground troops to the conflict, and supplies.
This is the exact conundrum that the US faced. It basically comes down to: "How do we force North Vietnam to give up the goal of reunification under (communist) Vietnamese rule?" The answer, of course, is that we couldn't. We couldn't "force" them to do anything, since there wasn't, and still isn't, any "force" that could do it. If we blew up every supply dump, destroyed every rail and road bridge, closed every harbor with mines, destroyed the dikes and used herbicides on the rice crop, flattened every structure in the North...would they give up the goal of getting the US out of Vietnam?

They would still covertly do it, but it would be at a smaller level. Then crush the Vietcong insurgency. At that point, defend. So we'd likely to have needed to leave troops there, similar to South Korea, a few divisions worth.
I disagree. I don't see how things could settle down to a permanent "lower level", given the ultimate goal of the communist North.

I'm not Jane Fonda. I realize that the communist take-over and rule in the North was not benign. It was, however, not America's problem. The US should have stuck with anti-colonialism. Free the Philippines, and refuse to help colonial masters regain their subjects. Instead they shipped the French back to Indochina then financed and supplied their losing effort to retain a lost colony, then took over the fight themselves (a different goal, of course, but that doesn't matter to the north). In the name of anti-communism, America betrayed her principles. I can't think of any positive that came from the war, not for Vietnam or the US.
 
Jun 2019
28
USA
#44
They didn't need oil the way Germany did.
In 1965, no, they didn't.

But in 1975, they needed Oil just as much as Hitler did to move mechanized divisions. PAVN had as many AFVs and Vehicles as the Nazis did in May 1940.

A conventional Invasion requires conventional logistics.

'Volunteers' moving bags of Rice on their shoulder won't do to supply T-54s barrelling down Highway 20
 
Likes: aggienation
Jul 2016
9,347
USA
#45
In 1965, no, they didn't.

But in 1975, they needed Oil just as much as Hitler did to move mechanized divisions. PAVN had as many AFVs and Vehicles as the Nazis did in May 1940.

A conventional Invasion requires conventional logistics.

'Volunteers' moving bags of Rice on their shoulder won't do to supply T-54s barrelling down Highway 20
A significant portion of the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply line was trucking. All the fuel, all the trucks, all the spare parts, all needed to be imported, then staged in N. Vietnam before moving through the country to Cambodia and Laos. And those trucks were all hauling supplies, minus rice, were imported to N. Vietnam. And that was long before 72 or 75 major combined arms offensives, that were loaded with tank, artillery pulled by motorized prime movers, and lots and lots of trucks.