The American tacticsand strategies were the main reason why the US actually lost the fight againstthe Vietcong in Vietnam. There strategies when invading Vietnam were to stopthe domino effect. Tactics involved ideas like Strategic hamlets were specialvillages, which had barbed wire or bamboo fence surrounding the hamlet to keepit away from Vietcong. In the hamlets, the government had built school,hospital, electricity, and some modern conveniences to encourage the peasantsto move in. The peasants would be provided with weapons and military trainingto enable them to defend themselves.
If necessary, the South Vietnamese Army,who stationed in the region, would come to aid the hamlets. The Strategic Hamlets wereconstructed as a system in which each hamlet was connected to eachother. Other ideas like ‘Agent Orange’ and Napalm both of which were consideredheavy bombing and chemical warfare. They were employed to try and clear some ofthe thick jungle and the Ho Chi Minh Trail with little effectiveness. Thesetactics were one of the reasons why the Americans failed as the Napalm andchemicals in ‘Agent Orange’ alienated the Vietnamese public as these tacticsdidn’t have any accuracy and usually resulted in collateral damage hittinginnocent civilians with the majority of these attacks took place on America’sallies soil, South Vietnam. This collateral damage alienated the Vietnamesepublic and so this lead to many of the public, who the Americans consideredallies, went over to the side of the Vietcong and this is why the US struggledin Vietnam as they didn’t know who they were meant to be shooting at as theydidn’t have the information to act against the Vietcong.
With Gabriel Kolko (Anatomyof a War: Vietnam War, and the Modern Historical Experince) This goes in handwith the Radical Interpretation of the Vietnam War that suggests that the onlyreason that America go involved in Vietnam was due to the fact that it was solelyfocused on the gal of crushing any country that supported Communism or was anti-capitalistin the way in which it ran its country. AS David L. Anderson says theAmericanisation of combat involved “a sustained and dually increasing US airbombardment of target in South and North Vietnam” This clearly shows how theUS’ strategy was extremely destructive with no specific aim within Vietnamapart from showing off their strength and also stopping the spread of communismor “the domino effect”. This meant thatthe Americans went in to Vietnam with a much more violent strategy. The US didnot care about territory in Vietnam as with the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN)launching a major attack and General Westmoreland responding with the 1stAir Calvary Division this included the use of b-52 bombers which killed manyPAVN soldiers 10 times as many Americans but it also killed many civilians dueto the collateral damage of the strategy. This alienation of the Vietnamesepublic was a major reason why they struggled to gain a foothold in Vietnam. This increased involvement within thecountry of Vietnam was increased greatly after the Gulf of Tonkin incidentwhich led to complete US involvement within Vietnam. Although this move wasprobably the only one they could take it did involve a $20 billion increase inexpenditure which was taken very badly by the US public who were quiteanti-war.
Yet Mark Moyer disagrees with this as his argument suggests that thisstrategy was perfectly sound but ‘what wouldultimately doom Johnson was neither the illness of the patient nor a faultydiagnosis, but a poor choice of remedy’ (p. 416) This is criticising the reluctance of the US to put major ground forcesdown in South Vietnam especially around the Ho Chi Minh trail and with this theUS’ removal of Diem from power was a grave error as this sent south Vietnaminto a power vacuum even though they had been winning the war up until thispoint. This is important as it suggests that the US could’ve won the war byutilising their technological advantage but they just didn’t have the localknowledge to implement their power within the country. George C. Herring has asimilar view on this matter as he argues that the failure of the Vietnam War onthe part of the US was due to their lack of a clear strategy within the contextof this war as they had “no firm strategic guidance to those military andcivilian advisors,” Vietnam : Different kind of war George C Herring 1994