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 (1946-1999) Other 20th Century Battles    
AuthorMessage
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 182

"Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 7/28/2015 12:00:41 AM
Realistic look at the ARVN and the military and political decisions of both North and South and the impact of the political "climate" in the US.(IMHO) Is also really hard on the Paris Accords because of the position it left S Vietnam especially without Nixon's promised support. Not easy on S Vietnam's leadership and their decisions during the period but nothing like the common held beliefs. Touches on the post war "re-education camps" and the fact that the last two ARVN Generals weren't released until 1992 and the the large majority of officers from major and above weren't released until 1987. Also identifies the North's main agent to be a NCO assigned to the JGS(Joint General Staff). Anybody else read this or want to discuss?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


tom ryan
Bethany Beach, DE, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Author


Posts: 85
http://www.tomryan-civilwar.com
Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/4/2016 7:36:52 PM
John, I just started reading Black April. It looks promising, and probably builds on Sorley's "A Better War." Will post more later.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1573

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/5/2016 6:15:32 PM
Thanks John.Definitely on my (much too long) reading list. I'd be very much interested in what is slowly coming out in vietnamese sources.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 182

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/19/2016 12:44:14 AM
Tom,

Have you finished? What did you think?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2296

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/22/2016 6:36:10 AM
John,

 Ran across this, one of the many forgotten aspects of the war. I agree with Bolté's final comment in the article.


Quote:
In May 1967 an organization known as CORDS—Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support—was formed to coordinate the U.S. civil and military pacification programs.


[Read More]

Cheers

BW
---------------
Mammalian orders ARE orders, and they ARE meant to be nursed.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 182

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/22/2016 2:12:11 PM
BW,

I don't disagree with the final comment but one of the points that I believe "Black April" tries to make is that the US trained portion of the ARVN officer corps was just starting to gain the upper hand and take command to the army at least at the tactical level near the end.

Plus I'm not sure if US public opinion would have allowed for US command of the ARVN.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


tom ryan
Bethany Beach, DE, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Author


Posts: 85
http://www.tomryan-civilwar.com
Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/22/2016 6:08:52 PM

Quote:
Tom,

Have you finished? What did you think?
--John R. Price


John, I recently finished reading Louis Fortescue's memoir "Service with the Signal Corps" which I recommend for anyone interested in the intelligence operations side of the war. Am now about 2/3rds of the way through Shultz and Mingus's "The Second Day at Gettysburg."

I have only read the intro and part of the first chapter of Black April, but like what I see thus far. From the introduction, it appears the book will verify long held views that Congress undermined any chance SVN could hold out against the NVN invasion after withdrawal of U.S. troops in 1973. The failure to provide the necessary means in dollars and equipment to SVN led to rapid collapse of its ability to stand up to full scale invasion. Things might have been different if Nixon was not forced to resign. Without him there was little if any hope that the necessary support would be forthcoming for SVN to make an effort to survive.

It will be interesting to read George Vieth's take on how this all played out. He certainly dismisses the myth that the VC were an independent force opposed to the SVN government. The VC were part and parcel of the communist apparatus masterminded by the Hanoi government from the outset, despite the anti-war faction's claim to the contrary.

Will post more later.

Regards, Tom

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 182

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/22/2016 10:43:54 PM
Tom,

You have to love the story about the misfire of the APC recoilless rife due to a broken firing pin with no spare at the main gate of the ARVN compound in Ban Me Thuot as a clue for the direction the book is heading. While I think he paints Congress as the base from which everything snowballs I also think he spreads the blame pretty well and paints a realistic picture from both sides.

Edit I don't want to go too far in my comments because I really think the book is very informative and a good read. Don't want to spoil it
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2296

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/26/2016 1:31:23 AM
 Without having read the book, I will nonetheless offer a couple of thoughts.

 The ARVN, in one sense, shares an unfortunate characteristic with France's army of 1940. This characteristic is that both are seen as doomed forces because of the tendency of people to view events in hindsight. To paraphrase Patton, they lost, and no one gives a hoot in Hell for an army that failed to prevent the conquest of their homeland.

 But hindsight can be misleading. In the case of the ARVN, we witnessed the struggle to generate a competent force by a newly independent country invaded from without and beset by insurrection from within. The ARVN, in other words, never got any breathing space. That the ARVN developed as much as it did, considering the ongoing struggle, may in fact be one of the minor miracles of the Vietnam War. Of course, we needn't hold our breath waiting on the regime in Hanoi to acknowledge, that the RVN made what was not so much a wholly incompetent attempt, as one that was actually typical for minor Asian powers at the time.

 Why typical? Because, if one recalls the Korean War, the ROK Army was pretty much an awful force until near the war's end. Had Seoul had only the ROK Army to defend their country, all of Korea would be communist today. But where the history of the ROK Army and the ARVN diverge is that in Korea's case, the UN was able to force a cease-fire and thwart the communist attempt at conquest. From 1953 forward, the ROK Army, and ROK society, had the breathing room to organize themselves competently. Today, the ROK Army bears no resemblance to the corrupt and incompetent force it was in 1950. Had the RVN and the ARVN been able to enjoy enough years in peace, it is quite possible that an RVN of today would bear more resemblance to the ROK than the regime in Saigon that was defeated by the NVA in 1975.

 The historiography of the Vietnam War is long overdue for its own revolution. For too long, the narrative of Hanoi and the narrative of those in the USA who opposed the war has held almost unchallenged sway. One of the worst aspects of these narratives is the assumption that the Saigon regime and its army were so incompetent that the outcome of the war was predetermined. I would point out that in war, nothing is predetermined, and the facile acceptance of this view by academics in the West who should know better only points out how effective the propaganda of Hanoi was, and remains.

Cheers

BW
---------------
Mammalian orders ARE orders, and they ARE meant to be nursed.

wazza
Sydney , Australia
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 243

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/26/2016 3:17:47 PM
Good post BW.
Its a point we should take on board regarding some blanket statements made regarding the efforts of the ARVN and the circumstances they endured in the early 70's.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 182

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/26/2016 11:28:25 PM
BW,

Good post with a lot of good points. The thing that I found most interesting is a degree of admiration from at least some of Hanoi's leadership for the fight the ARVN made. The one quote basically said the proof was in the number of NVA casualties.

I also think that the book leans toward the idea that the outcome was predetermined but not for the reason of incompetence but by the conditions and handicaps imposed by the Paris Accords and the abandonment by the US Congress.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 182

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 2/26/2016 11:44:36 PM


"Back then I told people, 'If anyone says that we attacked and captured Saigon without breaking a single light, I will give him a shovel and have him dig the graves of our dead." Major General Hoang Dan Deputy Commander of the PAVN 2nd Corps.

"The entire division (including attached units) suffered more than 400 casualties. The number demonstrates that the attack to liberate Saigon was not conducted down a 'red carpet" laid out for us by the enemy, as many people mistakenly believe." Senior Colonel Ho De, Commander 10th Division.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


tom ryan
Bethany Beach, DE, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Author


Posts: 85
http://www.tomryan-civilwar.com
Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 3/4/2016 9:49:21 PM
Just started reading "The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam" by Geoffrey Shaw. Finally a book that tells the truth about what took place back then, and how the Kennedy administration got it so wrong. This is a prelude to Black April, and I will finish reading before picking up with Black April again. It appears obvious that the Americans repeated the same type of mistakes in their policies toward both the Diem and Thieu administrations.

Shaw's book puts to rest the unsubstantiated propaganda that reporters Halberstam and Sheehan perpetrated on the American public that influenced the Kennedy admins policies during the Diem years.

Tom

tom ryan
Bethany Beach, DE, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Author


Posts: 85
http://www.tomryan-civilwar.com
Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 5/23/2016 4:38:07 PM
Been reading the book a few pages at a time, and have reached page 165. What stands out thus far, besides the hypocrisy of the U.S. Congress in its failure to support the GVN following the American withdrawal in Jan. 1963, is the dedication and professionalism of both the ARVN and the PAVN forces in this struggle. The image drawn by most American reporters in Vietnam of the South Vietnamese military was that of a cowardly, incompetent army that refused to fight.

Black April paints an entirely different story, and verifies the willingness of the SVN troops to fight and die for their freedom. The in-depth research that went into this book reinforces the narrative of the action that took place, and the conclusions the author reached about how both sides performed.

What stands out thus far is the sophisticated intelligence operations conducted by the PAVN that gave them advantages in both strategic planning and tactical implementation. Also, they used deception particularly well often based on knowledge of the enemy's plans gathered by spies within the ARVN or GVN organization, and by intercepts and captured documents.

I have not gotten to the section on reeducation camps as yet, but I met a former ARVN officer who spent eight years in one of these camps. He did not say much about his experience, except that it was pretty bad. Another Vietnamese person I met recently is the son of an ARVN colonel who was killed in the war. The son speaks highly of his father's service. The impression I get is that these Vietnamese survivors are dismayed about the Communist takeover of Vietnam, but are proud of their effort to prevent this from happening.

More later.

Tom

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1573

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 5/23/2016 8:56:11 PM
Thanks Tom.

Be glad to hear anything you've got to say.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 182

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 5/24/2016 12:12:19 AM
Tom,

Not really that much about the reeducation camps. The "Aftermath" section is less than 10 pages long. I believe that the longest time was reserved for the most competent senior officers and I want to say that 92 was when the last senior officers were released.

I agree its a entirely different story but I also don't think he whitewashes the shortcomings of the ARVN nor the mistakes that contributed to defeat. IMO your just starting to get into the "meat" of the book.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


tom ryan
Bethany Beach, DE, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Author


Posts: 85
http://www.tomryan-civilwar.com
Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 5/25/2016 9:33:27 AM
This conversation prompted me to go back to some papers that I wrote for classes I was taking in the 1960's and 1970's on the subject of Indochina in general and Vietnam in particular.

One paper dated January 1966 is titled "The Ngo Dinh Diem Administration: Its Conflict With the Buddhists." It includes a supplement titled "Selected Excerpts from Writings Depicting the Personal and Political Philosophy of Ngo Dinh Diem." In general, this paper provides a favorable look at what Diem was attempting to accomplish in Vietnam, and what he already had accomplished. I recall that my instructor was somewhat perplexed about the favorable tone of the paper, given that news reports coming out of Vietnam had been for the most part unfavorable about the Diem administration.

Another one dated Fall 1977 is titled "Ideology, Pragmatism, and the Future of Vietnam: An Analysis of Conflict and Decision-making in the Vietnamese Communist Party." This covers the birth and development of the Vietnamese Communist Party from the French colonial period up through the Vietnam war and it aftermath.

I plan to contact the Vietnam Project at Texas Tech University, and offer copies of these papers to them for their collection. They may find them of some interest.

Tom

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 1976

Re: "Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975"
Posted on: 12/21/2016 8:23:25 PM
These guys would of helped!

[Read More]

Those last few evacuated troops leaving Saigon by helicopter,

definitely had a major scare!
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

 (1946-1999) Other 20th Century Battles    
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