. tely through the use of air power. More tonnage of ordinance was dropped in any given week during Vietnam than during all other wars in the history of the world combined. One would think this would make the war easy to win. Unfortunately, ethical problems and lack of planning made it impossible to settle the war in the air, thus forcing the U.S. to invade with ground forces.

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Westmoreland and the Ground War President Johnson chose General William C. Westmoreland to command the land forces in Vietnam. Westmoreland, a tall, rugged man from South Carolina, was know for his enthusiasm, and for always having good news from the front lines.

Westmoreland commanded over 500,000 troops at the peak of the war, and was still unable to crush the Viet Cong, as hoped by most of Washington. 3 But there were many factors that contributed to our startling defeat on the ground in Vietnam. The first and foremost was the difference in tactics between the Americans and the North Vietnamese.

The VC were ruthless soldiers, who, even though sometimes poorly trained, fought with as much drive and enthusiasm as the best trained soldiers in the world. The VC used something called guerrilla tactics.They would recruit children, tie themselves to trees, use babies as bait for booby traps, and other ‘unethical’ things. American soldiers stopped accepting the drinks offered to them by young Vietnamese boys after a few unfortunate GIs found out the ice was really crushed up glass. These and other fighting techniques such as strapping explosives to kids and having them run up to soldiers, were a few of the toils U.S.

soldiers had to deal with. Also on the tactics side, the entire U.S. offensive consisted of a myriad of ‘search and destroy’ missions.

S & D missions involved a patrol, (usually 10-35 soldiers), going out of the base and finding (then killing) the enemy. Unfortunately, the booby traps placed by the VC and the fact that they knew the land and could hide, meant the S & D missions were like throwing soldiers away. In fact, more U.S.

soldiers were killed from booby traps than any other cause of death in Vietnam. Weapons were another problem in Vietnam. Again going back to World War II, the massive armored assaults that won the war for the allies were useless in the dense jungle.U.S. armor was limited to using M113 troop carriers with machine guns on them, instead of using the more effective M60 tanks and artillery. 3 So Westmoreland was forced to rethink tactics, as well as use weapons and strategies untested in the history of American warfare. Other difficulties with weapons were rampant.

The M-16, a revolutionary new infantry rifle, was prone to frequent jams as well as water damage. And in a country when it rains almost every day, that wasn’t good news.Also, U.S. commanders underestimated the power of the Viet Cong’s weapons, thinking that they only had muskets and bolt-action rifles. But since the Chinese and Russians were supplying the VC with modern AK-47s and other similar arms, the officers were faced with one nasty surprise after another.

Weapons, though new and advanced, can still have weaknesses, and the battlefields in Vietnam exploited almost all the weaknesses of our weapons. However, with tactics that could use the strengths and all but eliminate the weaknesses, the ground war would have also been a snap.This shows that relying too heavily on technology and not enough on battle-tested weapons can be downright deadly. Leaders, Washington, and the Morale Issue While Johnson and Westmoreland had loads of support at the beginning of the war, as the American people started to see that the war was unwinnable, their support began to decline. 1 in 5 of every soldier who fought- and died- was drafted, 1 and this caused distress among the public. Draft cards were burned publicly, schools walked out in protest of the war, and even large music events were held to somehow stop the fighting.

With all this public opinion against the war, one would wonder why the fighting continued. The reason is evident to us now, considering that hindsight is 20/20.General Westmoreland manipulated the body counts for both side to make it look like we were always winning. Not only did Westmoreland lie, but he failed to mention that the pool from which VC and NVA soldiers came from was almost the entire country. With lawmakers telling you one thing and the television telling you another, what would you think.

Obviously, it is extremely hard to fight a war where your home country doesn’t even support you putting your life on the line. Life on the battlefield wasn’t exactly pretty, either.Daily firefights, dead comrades, and officers who were fresher than you were were a few of the troubles grunts had to deal with on the battlefield. Drug use was rampant, soldiers would get high before battles to help them forget about what they were doing. 4 Mutiny was common, and the amount of soldiers who went AWOL was higher than any other war. With soldiers who didn’t know what they were fighting for and people at home who didn’t support you, what else could go wrong? Only one thing, and it happened to go wrong. The largest reason why we lost the war is very apparent, and fits in nicely with this section.When one is fighting for a country’s independence, and the citizens of that country don’t support the efforts, trouble abounds.

7 The South Vietnamese were not happy about U.S. soldiers being in their country, and it showed. Every day, thousands of South Vietnamese joined the Viet Cong, so the American soldiers never knew who to trust, and who to shoot. Not having the support of the people you’re fighting for is the worst curse that can be bestowed onto a military.

Westmoreland and Johnson should have figured out the root of the problem before sending more troops, and the problem was that the American weapons were destroying the peaceful farmer’s fields and burning their villages. For a people as far away from the conflict and as apathetic towards the war as they were, it is surprising we lasted this long without being forced to capitulate. The saddest chapter in American history could easily have been avoided, with a combination of good leadership, planning, preparedness, and morale.Perhaps in the future, American soldiers will know what they are fighting for, be equipped for the conditions, and not be thrown mercilessly into the meat grinder of an already-lost battle. Only the future, however, will tell..

Bibliography (Note; numbers are used for identifying citations) 1. Becker, Elizabeth. America’s Vietnam War. New York: Clinton Books, 1992 2.

Gregory, Barry. River War. The Vietnam War (series of books).

New York: Marshall Cavendish corporation, 1988. 3.Gregory, Barry. The Grunts.

The Vietnam War (series of books). New York: Marshall Cavendish corporation, 1988. 4.

Gregory, Barry.The Air War. The Vietnam War (series of books). New York: Marshall Cavendish corporation, 1988. 5. Gregory, Barry.

The Green Berets. The Vietnam War (series of books). New York: Marshall Cavendish corporation, 1988. 6. Lomperis, Timothy J.The War Everyone Lost – and Won. Washington D.

C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1993 7. McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect. New York: Random House, 1995 8.Westmoreland, General William C.

A Soldier Reports. New York: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1976.


Vietnam The movie “Good Morning, Vietnam” Directed by Barry Levinson and written by Mitch Markowitz Had a solid view, that was portrayed in many ways, on the roles of the North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, and American Soldiers. It also depicted a clear picture of the Vietnamese Civilians and Viet Cong. The film began with a clear-cut portrayal of American Soldiers within the confounds of an office, and the discrepancies amongst the high ranking and higher ranking Officers. Robin Williams is introduced into the Movie as a humorous man meant to be a radio DJ for the American Soldiers fighting outside the Office.

The high-ranking officials in charge of the News broadcastings limited Adrian Cronauer (played by Robin Williams) to broadcast the most mild of new about the war to the soldiers; the very same soldiers who were fighting the war. In this was, the film maker practically hands over to the audience the fact that high ranking officials wanted to virtually blind-sight listeners into thinking that the war is only being fought in the hills..that it is, in fact, not real to them, but very distant.By doing this he shows how, by using propaganda, the news controlled out view [American view] and the soldiers views on the war that we were fighting. Misleading the masses to believe what the handful of major leaders felt was necessary for the masses to believe by keeping them mal-informed and blissfully ignorant of the actual situations at hand. Along with the portrayal of misconception within the confounds of the Vietnam War, the filmmaker successfully was able to serve the audience with the sight of individuals within each army confound.

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He created the antithesis of the faceless mass propaganda that Dictators such as Hitler used to create a subhuman tag for their targets. Consider the fact that when a student reads about mass casualties in a war, decades before their time, they only see the number or statistic, and not the hundreds and thousands of men woman and children who each came from a home, who left their loved ones, and the individual loss each family suffered.Mitch Markowitz introduced an intimacy towards each individual soldier, and compassion to each death among the thousands, through Robin Williams character. He also showed the innocents of the average soldier, how the soldiers conversed with the Vietnamese, continued to live their lives, and did not suddenly become emotionless robots. Along with the portrayal of individuality amongst the American Soldiers, Mitch Markowitz also represented the other sides of the war. In the Village which this story plot took place, there were images of families, children, and unique individuals within their habitual lives during the war in South Vietnam.

The film didnt show the evils of communism, or the major advantages of Capitalism, simply the people and the quality of their lives without active interaction with the government that ruled over them.Mitch Markowitz, did in fact specifically point out, through the young South Vietnamese/ secret Viet Cong boy Tuan, who was befriended by Robin Williams, that The Americans were the Enemy, not the North Vietnamese OR the French. And through this outlook, implied that this was a wide spread belief during that time. The Americans were brought into Vietnam to bring down communism and support Southern Vietnam, yet, as the movie vividly exacted, the American Military brought much harm to the South Vietnamese. Since north and South Vietnamese look alike, the US soldiers didnt have the ability to differentiate between them, which brought on an onslaught of obvious problems. The Viet Cong were able to seek sanctuary among the villages as South Vietnamese during the day and reawaken as the infamous Viet Cong during the night.Therefor there were many innocent deaths due to mistaken identity, harboring the Viet Cong, and the casualties caused by the Viet Cong (as depicted with the bombing of a café in the movie) which were not uncovered by the US military. But the US soldiers also impacted the Vietnamese with their presence in other ways.

In the movie, Robin Williams served as a “part time” English teacher. This was an example of introducing the US western culture into the village, as it was in many villages. It also shows that, although there were boundaries to cross to overcome prejudice against Vietnamese as well as Asians in general, there were steps taken in the right direction with people like Adrian Cronauer. Also as well as Mitch Markowitz for making a movie which did not show his own Prejudices against the Vietnamese, but on the contrary, showed a compassion to the people and their culture and cause.The Imagery that the producer and writer used was impeccable in portraying the humanities and inhumanities of war and of Vietnam.

There were conscious close ups and shots of Vietnamese children, and almost preadolescent Viet Cong and Vietnamese solders. These proved to point out how the people who were being attacked for the govt. which they were ruled over were simply innocent by-standers in a political war they most likely knew very little about. Overall, the Movie didnt seem to be one that was meant to brainwash, like a propaganda film.

The honestly in its portrayals of the people of Vietnam, though humorous for a comedic twist, seemed genuinely to be a statement of truth within the falsity that was spread through the propaganda during that time.


The Vietnam War was a brutal war that affected millions of people in manydifferent countries. All wars start because there is a difference in peoplesopinions, and the Vietnam War was no different.

It started because France and aVietnam leader, Ho Chi Minh, had a difference in opinion about the type ofgovernment Vietnam should have. To find out why the war broke out you will haveto go back to the 1750s. This is where the French started their so-calledprotectorate state of Vietnam.

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For many years the people of Vietnam protestedbut could not organize into a force powerful enough to resist the French. Thenin 1946 a communist educated individual called Ho Chi Minh organized the peopleof North Vietnam and drove out the French rulers in a war that took eight years.During peace settlements in Geneva they allowed North and South Vietnam tobecome separate nations, divided on the 17th parallel. This was only to last fortwo years.

After two years the two countries would then vote on a common leaderand reunite the two countries once more. This never happened. South Vietnam wasafraid that a Communist leader would be chosen and the nation would be in ruins.Communist guerrillas in South Vietnam opposing the canceled election beganattacks on Southern Vietnam and remaining French officials to gain control ofSouth Vietnam. If North Vietnam was to begin their invasion of South Vietnam theCommunist ruler Ho Chi Minh was sure to have complete control over the nationand spread his ideas of communism to neighboring countries. The United Statesthought that this should not happen so in 1965 the president ordered the bombingof North Vietnam and the landing of US troops in South Vietnam.

This then causedNorth Vietnam to send regular units to the South. That therefore, cause more UStroops to become involved. All of this kept building and building until it was afull-scale war. The main cause that lead the Vietnam War to brake out was thatthe old imperial France thought they could keep a so called protectorate statewithout giving them any freedom. Then a communist leader came along that unitedthe people and took over in the name of freedom. The U.

S. thought that ifVietnam became communist then neighboring countries would soon follow. They didnot want communism to spread so they tried to stop it but it did not work outlike they thought it would. The United States hatred for communism was whatpulled them into the war. Another mishappening that pulled the United Statesdeeper in to the war happened in the first week of August 1964, when NorthVietnamese torpedo boats were reported to have attacked two U.S. destroyers inthe Gulf of Tonkin. As a result of this attack, former President Lyndon B.

Johnson ordered jets to South Vietnam and the retaliatory bombing of militarytargets in North Vietnam. Later on, this information was found out to be false.The Vietnam War was a very unique war. There has been many different thing saidabout the Vietnam War. Some say the war was a waste of time because it as notour battle. There are many reasons that caused us to enter into the war.

Thiswar was very unique because the U.S. didnt win but did win most of thebattles. The U.S. was greatly affected by the war and so was Vietnam.


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