The Effects of Vietnamization on the Republic of Vietnam's Armed
Three Military Operations that Illustrate the Impact of American De-escalation
during the Vietnam War
by John M. Rincon
This article will analyze the disjointed and ill-conceived plan to withdraw
United States combat troops from Southeast Asia initiated in 1969. It will also
assess how the removal of those troops directly affected the ability of the
Armed Forces of the Republic of South Vietnam (ARVN) to withstand Communist
aggression. An examination of three pivotal military operations: the combined
U.S.-ARVN incursion of Cambodia in March 1970, the invasion of Laos by ARVN
troops in February 1971, and the 1972 Communist Easter Offensive, will
illustrate negative effects on ARVN caused by this process of American
de-escalation. The most critical of those being; inadequate training of ARVN,
the lack of establishing a basic military criteria for the promotion of ARVN
officers and non-commissioned officers, and never achieving full parity in ARVN
morale with that of its enemy.
"Vietnamization" was both a goal and the program through which that goal would
be achieved at the earliest practical time. The main elements of
Vietnamization were the improvement and modernization of the South Vietnamese
armed forces, the transfer of day to day combat operations from the United
States military to the ARVN, and the unilateral withdrawal of American troops
from South Vietnam. Vietnamization was essentially a strategy that would
require the Vietnamese to survive with greatly reduced American participation
and allow the United States to maintain its obligations and interests in Asia
while heading towards peace. South Vietnam would be a test case for
implementing the "Nixon Doctrine" and a new U.S. planning approach to Asia.
The Nixon Doctrine at first was misrepresented by some as signaling a new
policy that would lead to American withdrawal from Asia and from other parts of
the world. However, Nixon emphasized that, "the Nixon Doctrine was not a
formula for getting America out of Asia, but one that provided the
only sound basis for America's staying in and continuing to play a responsible
role in helping the non-communist nations and neutrals as well as our Asian
allies to defend their independence." Nixon's vision was that the role of
the United States in Third World conflicts would be transformed from one of
direct participation to one of serving as trainer and supplier to indigenous
forces. It was under this doctrine that the United States began the long and
arduous task of military de-escalation from South Vietnam. It also signaled the
start of the government of South Vietnam's attempt to create a fighting force
that could withstand the pressure exerted by the National Liberation Front
(Vietcong) and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA.)
During the Presidential campaign of 1968 Richard Nixon understood the key issue
was the war in Vietnam. He needed to show the American people he had a viable
plan to end the war. Yet, as of that point in the race Nixon had no such plan.
In a speech to a Republican audience at the American Legion Hall in Nashua, New
Hampshire, on 5 March, Nixon pledged to "end the war and to win the peace in
the Pacific." Nixon implied during his speech that evening that he had a
"secret" plan to end the war and succeeded in attracting the attention of the
press. He denied however, that there was a magic formula to achieve peace
and he tried to avoid the political trap of providing a concrete plan. For
the growing anti-war faction (known as doves ) and moderates in the
country, Nixon spoke less of escalating military measures and protecting vital
interests and more of taking non-military steps towards peace. For the pro-war
advocates (known as hawks) and conservatives, he continued to talk about
keeping firm pressure on Vietnam and winning the peace. To all Americans, he
spoke of "peace with honor." In November 1968, Richard Nixon defeated
incumbent Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey in one of the nation's tightest
Presidential races. Although Nixon won the election by a scant seven-tenths of
a percentage point, he had finally ascended to what he had always desired—the
Presidency. His honeymoon with the American people however, would last only a
short duration. It was now Nixon's responsibility to prove his word, and
through his secret plan extricate U.S. troops from a war that had been draining
the American people for more than four years. He now would need most of his
cabinet working on viable solutions to end the war and achieve that peace with
Early in Nixon's administration he decided to withdraw a number of U.S. combat
troops from Vietnam, hoping to demonstrate to Hanoi and the American people
that he was seriously seeking a diplomatic settlement to the war. He also hoped
that the withdrawal might calm domestic public opinion and graphically
demonstrate he was beginning to wind down the war. Nixon's Secretary of Defense
Melvin Laird, had long felt that the United States could "Vietnamize" the war;
that we could train, equip, and inspire the South Vietnamese to fill gaps left
by departing American forces. In March 1969, Laird returned from a visit to
South Vietnam with an optimistic report about the potential of the South
Vietnamese to be trained to defend themselves. It was largely on the basis of
Laird's enthusiastic advocacy of ARVN's abilities that Nixon under took the
policy of Vietnamization. Nixon disliked using the terms de-escalation,
disengagement, and withdrawal, to describe the removal of U.S. combat troops
from South Vietnam. He felt those terms had negative connotations to them. It
was Melvin Laird who coined the phrase "Vietnamization," which Nixon embraced
enthusiastically, and subsequently demanded his entire cabinet use when
addressing the issue of American withdrawal from Vietnam.
Although William Rogers was Nixon's Secretary of State, Nixon began to rely
more and more on one of his special advisers, Henry Kissinger, to head his team
assigned to implement his ideas and goals for Vietnamization. Nixon had grown
to respect Kissinger's tenacity and willingness to use what ever means
available to get things done. Kissinger had served Lyndon Johnson as a secret
emissary, passing Johnson's offers of bombing halts to the North Vietnamese via
French intermediaries in 1967. Nixon, impressed by Kissinger's abilities,
appointed him Assistant for National Security Affairs from 1969 to 1973, and
eventually took over as Secretary of State, phasing out Rogers in September
1973. During the years of the Nixon Presidency, Henry Kissinger would become
the advisor he relied on most for information and political input, especially
when it came to matters concerning Southeast Asia. Kissinger was directed by
President Nixon to start the process of developing a "private channel" directly
with Hanoi, with the intent to determine their willingness to engage in serious
negotiations regarding the war. Nonetheless, at the same time these
attempts to establish negotiations were being carried out, Nixon continued with
the bombing campaign over North Vietnam and slowly started to implement the
first phase of Vietnamization.
On 16 April 1969, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird was directed by Nixon to
gradually initiate shifting the burden of the war to the South Vietnamese.
General Creighton Abrams, Commander of Military Assistance Command Vietnam
(MACV) was instructed to support as quickly as possible, and to the maximum
extent feasible, the efforts of the government of South Vietnam to enlarge,
improve, and modernize their armed forces. Laird also directed that MACV
prepare two contingencies or "phases" for American withdrawal. Phase I would be
based on American participation in the war continuing at the current level;
Phase II would provide for the development of a self-sufficient ARVN, capable
of coping with the Vietcong and NVA after full Vietnamization had taken place.
During this time frame the South Vietnamese Army Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
asked for the immediate approval to increase the ARVN force level to over
800,000 men (regular, regional, and popular forces.) However, even with
this increase in ARVN strength, and MACV's ability to equip the South
Vietnamese with the latest weapons and technology to wage war, there were still
many problems to be addressed regarding the fighting ability of ARVN. First,
would a joint U.S.-Vietnamese promotion board have enough time to generate
enough qualified military leaders at both the officer and non-commissioned
officer level? Second, could the Vietnamese be trained to use the latest
military technologies available? Lastly, with U.S. combat troops eventually
leaving Vietnam how would the problem of sagging ARVN morale be addressed and
Henry Kissinger claimed that before he and Nixon could develop a negotiating
strategy to be used against the Communists and buy time for the process of
Vietnamization, Hanoi preempted our analyses by launching a countrywide
offensive in South Vietnam in early 1970. For the most part these attacks
were repulsed, and the offensive had little impact on American operations.
Casualties were another matter. Kissinger reported to the president that the
enemy had been "able to achieve a relatively high casualty rate among U.S. and
South Vietnamese forces while not exposing their own units." The North
Vietnamese were able to strike quickly, and cross the border into neutral
Cambodia to safety. Up to that point in the war, American military "rules of
engagement" prohibited the allies from crossing Cambodia's border in order to
give chase to the retreating Communists. That was however, until Nixon made
a command decision to prepare combat operations for both U.S. and ARVN troops
Ever since the early stages of the conflict in South Vietnam, one of the key
elements to Hanoi's success had been its ability to take advantage of the
neutrality of neighboring Cambodia and Laos. Both President Kennedy and
President Johnson had prohibited "hot pursuit" attacks on Vietcong sanctuaries
inside Cambodian territory. These restrictions compromised the allied
efforts to engage the enemy across the border and resulted in the Communists
establishing their Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN,) inside Cambodia.
This central office was responsible for directing all Vietcong and NVA
operations in War Zone C, which included South Vietnam's capitol Saigon. In
late March-early April 1970, President Nixon gave the go-ahead for a joint
U.S.-ARVN operation into Cambodia to search for, and then destroy COSVN, along
with all other Communist logistical support elements. In Vietnam the orders to
invade Cambodia hit U.S. field commanders with little warning and little time
Certain aspects of Vietnamization up to this point had been proceeding very
slowly, keeping a large number of U.S. advisors occupied trying to achieve the
goals set forth by the de-escalation program. Nixon, true to his word, brought
large chunks of American forces home. Unfortunately, the training of the South
Vietnamese was advancing at a snail's pace. MACV, understood that an invasion
or as Nixon termed it "incursion," into neutral Cambodia needed active ARVN
participation for political reasons. Therefore, MACV directed that ARVN
units would "jump-off" into the operation first, followed by American
The incursion of Cambodia, code-named Operation Toan Thang 42, began on the
morning of 29 April 1970, when twelve ARVN infantry and armored battalions
totaling approximately 8,700 men attacked the flanks of an area of Cambodia
known as the Parrot's Beak, about 40 miles west of Saigon. During the
planning stage for the incursion, MACV became extremely concerned whether ARVN
could meet their operational responsibilities and achieve their planned
objectives. Hence, MACV limited the South Vietnamese Tactical Area of
Responsibility (TAOR,) to a scant ten to fifteen mile penetration across the
border. For the most part, the two-month incursion into Cambodia garnered
mixed results. Large quantities of arms, ammunition, food, and other enemy
supplies were destroyed along with many Vietcong base camps, but the allies
were unable to locate and destroy COSVN.
The invasion of Cambodia by U.S. and ARVN troops was the first real test for
Vietnamization. Unfortunately, the invasion quickly highlighted the serious
problems inherent in disengaging the American military from Vietnam, and
placing the burden of the war squarely in ARVN's lap. Though some ARVN units
fought bravely, all too often U.S. advisors had to step into the breach and
coordinate armor, air, and artillery support to keep the invasion rolling.
The overall performance of ARVN troops has been termed disappointing to
mediocre by U.S. military advisors who served with ARVN units. Lt. General
Arthur S. Collin's Jr., Commander of I Field Force Vietnam (FFV,) was highly
critical of senior ARVN leadership and most of the ARVN battalions
participating in the operation. Collins concluded that ARVN was not up to
handling the NVA, and that it would take a long time to develop a reliable ARVN
fighting force, at least in his immediate command area.
Domestically, negative reactions to the Cambodian incursion became a major
factor in Nixon's decision to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from
South Vietnam. This enhanced rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops had an
overwhelmingly negative effect on ARVN. Congressional defense budget
reductions, which for the most part were not contested by President Nixon, and
lower draft calls which had Nixon's strong support, also made it mandatory that
U.S. troop strength be reduced quicker than had been anticipated by the U.S.
command in Vietnam. Fewer American troops in Vietnam meant fewer advisors
training their South Vietnamese counterparts. The problem most in need of
change was that of ARVN leadership. MACV repeatedly urged the commissioning
of qualified individuals from the ARVN rank and file, but the South Vietnamese
response was slow. After escalating the time-table for U.S. withdrawal
following the Cambodian incursion, MACV never applied the pressure necessary to
ensure ARVN got rid of their most inept military commanders. The
combination of entire U.S. Divisions leaving South Vietnam and the fact that
less money was being budgeted for the war meant that fewer supplies would reach
ARVN units. The supply issue caused a domino effect felt by the average ARVN
soldier who saw his pay reduced (if paid at all,) and the rationing of
munitions for both small arms and artillery. This critical logistic issue also
pushed the problem of poor ARVN leadership to a lower priority status, which
then led to command leadership vacuums and further reduction in ARVN morale.
In October-November 1970, domestic and political pressure again compelled Nixon
and Kissinger to accelerate the timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals from South
Vietnam. By the beginning of 1971, roughly 180,000 American troops remained in
Vietnam (about one third of the peak U.S. strength.) Moreover, it was
anticipated that by the summer of 1972 only a small residual, logistical-type
U.S. force of about 40,000 personnel would remain. MACV therefore thought
the dry season of 1970-71 (October-May) would be a good opportunity for the
South Vietnamese to take the offensive. U.S. commanders could then objectively
critique the impact of Vietnamization on ARVN up to that point. In effect this
would be a "coming out party" for ARVN, and a chance to show the Communists
they could initiate large operations without major U.S. involvement. This
was the basic rationale that led to a White House proposal to launch an
invasion into Laos in February 1971. The origins of a planned invasion of
Laos illustrate how Henry Kissinger came to dominate not only the negotiations
to end the war, but also showed how for all intents and purposes became the de
facto chairman of the American Military Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nixon had
basically abdicated his authority over the American military and the process of
Vietnamization to Kissinger, at that time a "mere" special assistant to the
president. It was a very strange circumstance that found the respective
commanders of the different branches of the U.S. military having to go through
Kissinger before being able to discuss operations with President Nixon. Many
senior level military personnel have since commented that it was a situation
where Kissinger was essentially doing the job of Secretary of Defense and
Secretary of State at the same time.
Politically, the objective of the Laotian campaign would allow the final phase
of Vietnamization to move forward on Kissinger's schedule. Militarily, the
operation was to seize the Communist logistic complex in the Tchepone area.
This region was a key strategic junction of supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh
Trail. A successful campaign was considered necessary by MACV to help buy time
for ARVN to reach its training and modernization goals.
LAMSON 719, the South Vietnamese designation given the operation, involved some
of their best troops; the 1st ARVN Division, 1st Armored Brigade, and three
Ranger Battalions from I Corps, as well as most of the elite Airborne Division
and Marine Division from the JCS's strategic reserve. The overall commander of
LAMSON 719 was Lt. General Hoang Xuan Lam, commanding general of I Corps, whose
reputation as a combat commander was deemed "mediocre" by U.S. advisors.
Senior American and Vietnamese leaders were quite aware of the great risks
involved in committing ARVN forces to a major offensive more or less completely
on their own. In December 1970 the U.S. Congress had imposed a legal
prohibition on the expenditure of funds for any American ground forces
operating outside South Vietnam. This would mean that the ground
operations in Laos would have to be conducted solely by South Vietnamese troops
without American advisors. Therefore, U.S. forces were allowed to support
LAMSON 719 with only limited tactical air support and long range artillery
operating from South Vietnamese bases. The prohibition of American advisors,
partly as a result of the final phases of Vietnamization, was a new and
potentially critical obstacle to closely coordinated operations. ARVN
commanders were accustomed to counting on their American counterparts in
arranging for U.S. air, heavy artillery, and logistical support.
Nixon wrongly assumed that ARVN could fulfill its military goals for the
operation in Laos even with limited U.S. involvement. He also counted on the
invasion achieving two political objectives. First, illustrate to the
Communists that ARVN had become a viable fighting force and second, pressure
Communist officials in Paris to respond more favorably to Kissinger's peace
initiatives. Unfortunately none of Nixon's expected goals came to fruition.
Although LAMSON 719 began on schedule on 8 February 1971, just about everything
went wrong from the beginning. Bad weather limited tactical air support the
first day, and heavy rains on 9 February turned Route 9 into a quagmire.
Five days into the invasion and meeting only light resistance, an operation
slated to last three months, stalled. Kissinger later claimed that on 12
February South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, feared that some of his
best units were at risk, ordered his commanders to proceed cautiously and to
cancel the operation once 3,000 casualties had been incurred. Though ARVN
units were allowed to resume the operation, the "taint" of the casualty
directive by Thieu, and the fact that ARVN began meeting much stiffer
resistance than anticipated caused the government in Saigon to re-assess the
operations objectives. Now instead of keeping an ARVN presence in Laos for
ninety days, Thieu merely wanted to capture Tchepone, apparently for political
and morale reasons.
General Abrams, by now extremely frustrated with Thieu's actions and an
apparent dearth of ARVN initiative, summed up the situation in a message sent
to General Lam. Abrams stated, "you go in there just long enough to take a piss
and then leave quickly." Finally, on 7 March the South Vietnamese occupied
the deserted village of Tchepone, and on 8 March they abandoned it, leaving
behind many of their 1,830 casualties to an uncertain fate in the hands of the
North Vietnamese. On 7 April 1971, Nixon proclaimed in a televised speech
to the American people that the South Vietnamese had demonstrated in Laos that,
"without American advisors they (ARVN) could fight effectively against the very
best troops North Vietnam could put in the field. Consequently, I can report
tonight that Vietnamization has succeeded." Privately, however, Nixon and
Kissinger thought LAMSON 719 "was clearly not a success," and had exposed
lingering deficiencies in Vietnamization. The other major problems caused
by the debacle of LAMSON 719, was that the North Vietnamese viewed the
operation as "a big defeat" for Vietnamization, that encouraged the communists
to persist and endure, realizing that American de-escalation would very shortly
be completed. The operation also exposed a gigantic logistical problem that
the South Vietnamese were never able to rectify; that being without American
logistic experts in country, ARVN was extremely hard pressed to move the
supplies needed for large operations. This would come to haunt ARVN the
following April when the Communists initiated their largest attacks of the
The 1972 Easter Offensive
By the spring of 1972, Vietnamization had almost been completed. It was now
time to access the negative implications of the program on ARVN while there was
still time to make the necessary corrections. Most U.S. troops had been
withdrawn, and the large complex U.S. intelligence, communications, and
logistics structure in South Vietnam been dismantled. Virtually all
American-built bases had been turned over to the South Vietnamese who
unfortunately lacked the means to secure and maintain them. In addition, the
Senior American headquarters—MACV, 7th Air Force, and III Marine Amphibious
Force—had been reduced sharply. The U.S. advisory structure was also
rapidly reduced during this period. By April 1972 U.S. advisors were assigned
only at ARVN corps and division levels. With so many drastic changes taking
place militarily inside South Vietnam due to the process of Vietnamization,
ARVN had to do some major shifting of troops to make sure vitally strategic
regions were covered. One of these very important areas was along the
de-militarized zone (DMZ.)
At the beginning of 1972 the South Vietnamese Army deployed a new division
designated 3rd ARVN, comprised mostly of green troops along the DMZ in the fire
bases formerly occupied by American Marines. The un-tested combat unit created
by the JCS in Saigon was an accident waiting to happen. With the placement of
the 3rd Division in this region it exposed a new and relatively untrained ARVN
contingent to an area that had seen many hard fought battles in the past. The
region just south of the DMZ had long been a target of intense artillery and
rocket fire from north of the border. To make matters worse, there was no
overall South Vietnamese commander of all forces north of Hai Van Pass, which
separates the two northern most provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien from the
rest of I Corps.
Both MACV and the South Vietnamese military anticipated the dry season
Communist offensive which began on 30 March 1972. It is therefore interesting
to note that even though a Communist attack was expected, many South Vietnamese
units were completely surprised by the timing and scope of the attacks. The
assault started with a massive preparatory artillery barrage, followed by an
estimated 15,000 NVA troops with tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, and mobile
anti-aircraft guns all crossing the DMZ from the north and northwest into Quang
Tri province. This area previously designated as I Corps, now known as Military
Region 1, was exactly where the new 3rd ARVN Division was positioned. The
division was quickly overrun by the Communist advance and retreated south out
of Quang Tri Province. In the following weeks of the offensive, Communist
divisions struck South Vietnam from bases in Laos and Cambodia in Military
Regions 2 and 3, (formerly II and III Corps,) threatening to cut South Vietnam
in two. There was heavy fighting outside of Saigon, Loc Ninh, and especially An
Loc, all in Military Region 3. The fighting at An Loc was critical to the
safety of Saigon, due to the fact it was a mere sixty miles north of the
capital on Highway 13, which led directly into Saigon.
Nixon and Kissinger both realized that the fall of Saigon to the Communists was
a real possibility. In Nixon's words it was a "very major crisis," and "do or
die time" in South Vietnam. Nixon thus made the decision to send B-52
bombers to strike targets in and around Hanoi, ordered the U.S. 7th Fleet to
mine Haiphong Harbor, and drastically increased both land and aircraft carrier
based air support for the beleaguered ARVN units all through South Vietnam.
Finally, he allowed Kissinger to insinuate the possibility of a U.S. tactical
nuclear strike on NVA military targets just north of the DMZ during the course
of his peace negotiations with North Vietnamese officials in Paris. Most allied
commanders agreed that without this monumental U.S. effort to keep South
Vietnam alive, Saigon and the rest of the South would have succumbed to the
Communist offensive. Sadly, even with all this U.S support there were areas in
Military Region 1 which could not be retaken and stayed in Communist control
for the remainder of the war.
Amazingly, due to Nixon's withdrawal timetable, all the while South Vietnam was
locked in a bitter struggle for its survival, the removal of U.S. troops
continued. At the time of the Easter battles, the U.S. had roughly 40,000
troops left in Vietnam, 95% of which were support personnel. The process of
de-escalation had for the most part been accomplished. Nixon had done what he
had promised the American people, he had withdrawn combat troops from South
Vietnam through his Vietnamization program. However, the other aspects of
Vietnamization—the training of ARVN to utilize all the weapons supplied by the
U.S. and the effort to create a new ARVN officer corps were still
With the fall of Saigon to the Communists in April of 1975, direct American
involvement in South Vietnam came to a crashing halt. The United States had
first become involved in Vietnam soon after the ending of World War II. All
through the early 1950's we bank rolled the French attempts to regain colonial
rule and drive out the Communists. When their efforts failed we committed
ourselves to actively pursue a goal to keep South Vietnam a "democracy" and
defend the country against any type of Communist aggression. This slow
build-up of men and material would eventually culminate with the introduction
of American combat troops to Vietnam in 1965. Our nation fought continuously
alongside our South Vietnamese counterparts for the next seven plus years,
until the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973. In all, the
United States military suffered over 58,000 battle deaths and nearly 300,000
wounded in action. The stated objective of the U.S. military presence in South
Vietnam was to stop North Vietnam's attempt to overthrow the government in the
South and mould ARVN into a viable fighting force. This was our political view
of South Vietnam for nearly thirty years, stretching back to the Truman,
Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, administrations, and culminating in the
Vietnamization program carried out under Richard Nixon.
Vietnamization in theory made perfect sense. Teach the South Vietnamese
military to fend for themselves once the American military started the process
of de-escalation. The goals of Vietnamization; technical training,
establishment of a command leadership core that would be able to confidently
lead ARVN, and the process of enhancing ARVN morale were admirable ideals.
However, with essentially only four short years to achieve the desired results
of Vietnamization, the United States found that we had overestimated the
ability of the ARVN to match up against the well-trained and highly motivated
Vietcong and NVA. The incursion into Cambodia, and the invasion of Laos both
showed cracks in ARVN that were never addressed by either army and thus never
repaired. It took the Communist Easter Offensive to bring those problems out to
the open. Unfortunately, by that time the U.S. military in Vietnam for the most
part was inhibited by congressional limitations and could only help the South
Vietnamese react, but not initiate. Eventually the political morass of the
Watergate scandal would soon destroy the President who conceived and planned
Vietnamization, and shut off all supplies to a country we had been directly
associated with for almost thirty years. The only goal Vietnamization achieved
was the removal of U.S. combat troops. However, by achieving that goal it
failed the South Vietnamese Army where it needed the most assistance, providing
leadership, training, and morale. Without those basic military essentials, the
policy of Vietnamization doomed ARVN and South Vietnam to their ultimate fate.
Show Footnotes and
. Collins, Brigadier General James Lawton, Jr. Vietnam studies: The
Development and Training of the South Vietnamese Army (Washington, DC:
United States Government Printing Office, 1975), 85.
. Summers, Harry G, Jr. On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War
(New York: Ballantine Books. 1995), 176.
. Vietnam Studies: The Development and Training of the South Vietnamese
. Nixon, Richard M. RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (New York:
Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1978), 395
. Ibid., 395.
. Krepinevich, Andrew F, Jr. The Army and Vietnam (Baltimore and
London: The John Hopkins University Press), 251
. Kimball, Jeffrey. Nixon's Vietnam War (Lawrence, KS: University
of Kansas Press, 1998), 40.
. Ibid., 41.
. Ibid., 41.
. The New York Times, March 6 and 21, 1968.
. RN, 392.
. Ibid., 392.
. Boettcher, Thomas D. Vietnam the Valor and the Sorrow (Boston:
Little, Brown Company, 1985), 263.
. RN, 323.
. Nixon's Vietnam War. 106.
. Vietnam Studies: The Development and Training of the South Vietnamese
. Ibid., 88.
. Kissinger, Henry. White House Years (Boston: Little, Brown and
Company, 1979), 239.
. Ibid., 242.
. The United States military in Vietnam was to a great degree hampered by
restrictions placed on it by the Pentagon. Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all
directed Pentagon officials to enact specific parameters governing how, when,
and where military units could enter into combat. These restrictions were
referred to as the "rules of military engagement." Officially U.S. and ARVN
units were specifically prohibited from entering neutral Cambodia. However, the
reality was that both U.S. and ARVN units had covertly been operating in
Cambodia since the beginning of the war.
. Duiker, William J. Sacred War: Nationalism and Revolution in a Divided
Vietnam (Boston: McGraw Hill, 1995), 225.
. Ibid., 226.
. War Zone C, included Saigon and its environs in III Corps. The area was
known for intense Vietcong and NVA activity. And for its elaborate tunnel
complex's which the communists had been building since the French-Vietnamese
. Palmer, General Bruce, Jr. The 25-Year War: America's Military Role in
Vietnam. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), 100.
. Nixon's Vietnam War. 210.
. Ibid., 210. Jump-off is a military term used to describe the beginning of
. Ibid., 210. and, Shawcross, William. Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the
Destruction of Cambodia. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979),
. The 25-Year War: America's Military Role in Vietnam. 101.
. Ibid., 101.
. Ibid., 101.
. Ibid., 103.
. Lewy, Gunter. American in Vietnam (Oxford, England: Oxford
University Press, 1978), 170.
. Ibid., 170.
. Ibid., 170.
. The 25-Year War: America's Military Role in Vietnam. 105.
. Ibid., 105.
. Ibid., 217.
. White House Years. 984-985.
. Ibid., 985-987.
. The 25-year War: America's Role in Vietnam. 109.
. Ibid. 109. South Vietnam was broken up into four military Corps or areas.
I Corps (referred to as "eye-corps") was the northern most sector of South
Vietnam which bordered the demilitarized zone (DMZ.) The Corps geography
contained many of the countries most strategically important cities and
military regions, i.e., Hue, Dong Ha, Khe Sanh, and Quang Tri.
. Ibid. 111. Route 9 Branched off to the east from Highway 1 (the main
north to south highway in South Vietnam,) at Dong Ha. From there Route 9
traveled through Camp Carrol, Khe Sahn, and across the border into Laos ending
at the Laotion village of Tchepone. Thus, becoming the main logistical artery
for re-supply for ARVN troops entering Laos.
. White House Years. 1004. President Thieu in subsequent
interviews has always denied setting a casualty limit for the operation.
. Nixon's Vietnam War. 245.
. Ibid., 245.
. Ibid., 2476.
. Haldeman, Harry Robbins. The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White
House (New York: Putnam, 1994), 486.
. Ibid., 488.
. Ibid., 489.
. Nixon's Vietnam War. 248.
. The 25-Year War: America's Military Role in Vietnam. 118.
. Ibid., 118.
. Ibid., 118. The DMZ was established to divide the country of Vietnam at
the 17th parallel in accordance to the treaty signed in Geneva in 1954, ending
the French-Vietnamese conflict.
. Hai Van Pass divided the Ashau Valley to the north from a more
mountainous region to the south. The pass also terminated at the coast, just
north of Danang, the largest ARVN base in I Corps.
. Nixon's Vietnam War. 302.
. Truong, Lt. General Ngo Quang. The Easter offensive of 1972 (Washington,
DC: Indochina Monographs: The U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1977), 165.
Truong replaced Lt. General Lam as ARVN commander in Military Region 1
(formerly I Corps) on 28 April 1972.
. Ibid., 174.
. White House Years. 1113.
. Nixon's Vietnam War. 305. Haiphong Harbor was Hanoi's logistical
lifeline for military supplies coming into the country by sea. The mining of
the harbor drastically reduced military equipment destined for North Vietnam to
be docked and unloaded.
. The Easter offensive of 1972. 174.
. The 25-Year War: America's Military Role in Vietnam. 120.
. Sacred War. 251.
Copyright © 2005 John Rincon
Written by John Rincon. If you have questions or comments on this article,
please contact John Rincon at:
Last Updated: 08/11/2007.