Air Power Command and Control Lessons Learned at Operational Level of War Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1079 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

Vietnam: A Bird's Eye View of the historical and strategic past of U.S. Operations

Strategic Setting

The territory of the former French colony of Vietnam was occupied by two opposing armies, that of the North Vietnamese, armed by the Soviets, and the South Vietnamese, backed first by the French, then later by the Americans. Vietnam at the time of the conflict was divided into two opposing nations, as Korea is, still, to this day. (Phan, 2002)

Opposing Forces

Ho Chi Minn, a communist nationalist led the North Vietnamese. The United States Air force was devoted to training the VNAF (South Vietnamese Air Forces) to fight for this evolving independent nation, an objective that was not achieved.

Command Relationships / Adjustments made to Doctrine

From the beginning, the White House was criticized as exercising undue influence over the waging of the war. For instance, during the first major air offensive known as "Operation Rolling Thunder," the White House, it was alleged selected targets designed for public relations rather than real strategic value. It did not focus on advice from military leaders from the actual theater of operations. "President Johnson and Secretary McNamara maintained detailed tactical control of the missions. President Johnson and his advisors chose the targets from an Armed Forces' suggested list." (Humphrey, 1980, p.36)

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All the while during this first operation, the South Vietnamese remained unable to effectively mobilize civilians to support their cause, nor function independently, while the North Vietnamese nationalist emphasis on their own struggle, the North's perceived resistance to foreign forces during "Rolling Thunder," and its greater perceived independence from the Soviet Union by the Vietnamese themselves all rallied support to the cause. (Thies, 1980)

Term Paper on Air Power Command and Control Lessons Learned at Operational Level of War Assignment

Of course, this independence goes against the White House 'domino' theory that preached that if Vietnam were to fall under Soviet control, so would the rest of South East Asia, much along the lines of Eastern Europe. However, this view did not take into consideration recent Vietnamese resistance to colonial French oppression, the actual level of Soviet influence over the Vietcong, and fundamentally highlights the faulty analogy of Europe and East Asia. (Phan, 2002)

Employment Concepts

Another less well publicized aspect of the analogies of World War II and the Vietnamese Conflict is the use of the carpet bombing that proved so successful in trampling the remnants of Nazi Germany, and so ineffective in taking Vietnam. True, the tactical focus of Vietnam was largely a land war. Techniques such as carpet-bombing supplanted strategic land objectives in the theater of operations. This was also true of World War II. But rather than being waged against an already dispirited populace, Rolling Thunder was waged against an opposition force rallying to the cry of freedom, in its eyes, from colonialism. It thus failed partly "because North Vietnam was immune to conventional coercion due to its applied revolutionary warfare" (Phan, 2002) and the graduated increases in intensity of the campaign proved a colossal failure, as it gave the North Vietnamese time to regroup, recoup their assets, and boosted their morale in their able to endure against America forces.

Joint/Coalition Operations

By the time the U.S. was becoming deeply involved in the campaign, the French were already withdrawn. "Rolling Thunder" begin on March 2, 1965… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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