Battle of Go Cong

The Battle of Go Cong was a small battle during the Vietnam War. It took place on September 3, 1963 near Gò Công, Tiền Giang Province, after the General Staff of the Viet Cong (VC) called for "another Ap Bac" on South Vietnamese forces. The intent of the operation was to drive out the VC who had survived the earlier Ap Bac engagement. The battle was won by American and South Vietnamese forces, after inflicting heavy casualties on the VC, using artillery to slaughter VC fighters fleeing American special operation troops who ambushed them with intense sniper fire. It was later discovered that the 91 of the captured VC troops were new recruits, and did not have weapons.

Battle of Go Cong
Part of the Vietnam War
DateSeptember 3, 1963
Location
Result South Vietnamese and US victory
Belligerents
 South Vietnam
 United States
Viet Cong
Commanders and leaders
South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem Nguyen Van Linh
Strength
South Vietnam Go Cong Provincial Forces, IV Corps, South Vietnam FNL Flag.svg 200
Casualties and losses
None US claimed: 66 dead
91 captured

References

  • Quoc Vinh, Tran (1965) Quan doi nhan dan: Resolutely defeat the American aggressors. Hanoi, Vietnam.
1963 in the Vietnam War

The defeat of the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) in a battle in January set off a furious debate in the United States on the progress being made in the war against the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. Assessments of the war flowing into the higher levels of the U.S. government in Washington were wildly inconsistent, some citing an early victory over the Viet Cong, others a rapidly deteriorating military situation. Some senior U.S. military officers and White House officials were optimistic; civilians of the Department of State and the CIA, junior military officers, and the media were decidedly less so. Near the end of the year, U.S. leaders became more pessimistic about progress in the war.

Although the U.S. denied that it had combat soldiers in South Vietnam, U.S. soldiers routinely participated in combat operations against the Viet Cong. The number of U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam rose to more than 16,000 by year's end with 122 combat deaths in just that year.

The President of South Vietnam Ngô Đình Diệm initiated a brutal crack-down on protests by Buddhists against his (largely Roman Catholic) government that caused consternation in the U.S. and concern that the Diệm government was failing. In November, Diệm was overthrown and killed in a coup d'état by his military, with the tacit acquiescence of the United States. A military junta headed by General Dương Văn Minh replaced Diệm. United States President John F. Kennedy was assassinated three weeks later. Lyndon Johnson became President of the United States. Johnson did not make any major changes in Kennedy's policies or team of policy advisers on Vietnam.

Most of the statements and reports quoted below were secret and not shared with the American public for many years.

Field artillery

Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, short range, long range, and extremely long range target engagement.

Until the early 20th century, field artillery were also known as foot artillery, for while the guns were pulled by beasts of burden (often horses), the gun crews would usually march on foot, thus providing fire support mainly to the infantry. This was in contrast to horse artillery, whose emphasis on speed while supporting cavalry units necessitated lighter guns and crews riding on horseback.

Whereas horse artillery has been superseded by self-propelled artillery, field artillery has survived to this day both in name and mission, albeit with motor vehicles towing the guns, carrying the crews and transporting the ammunition. Modern artillery has also advanced to rapidly deployable wheeled and tracked vehicles and precision delivered munitions capable of striking targets at ranges between 15 and 300 kilometers.

War in Vietnam (1959–1963)

The 1959 to 1963 phase of the Vietnam War started after the North Vietnamese had made a firm decision to commit to a military intervention in the guerrilla war in the South Vietnam, a buildup phase began, between the 1959 North Vietnamese decision and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which led to a major US escalation of its involvement. Vietnamese communists saw this as a second phase of their revolution, the US now substituting for the French.

Between the Geneva accords in 1954 and 1956, the two states created by the talks were still forming; the influence of major powers, especially France and the United States, and to a lesser extent China and the Soviet Union, were as much an influence as any internal matters. There is little question that in 1957-1958, there was a definite early guerilla movement against the Diệm government, involving individual assassinations, expropriations, recruiting, shadow government. The insurgents were South Vietnamese rebels or northerners who had been living there for some time. While there was clearly communications and perhaps arms supply from the north, there is little evidence of any Northern units in the South, although organizers may well have infiltrated.

There was endemic insurgency in South Vietnam throughout the period 1954–1960. It can also be established-but less surely- that the Diệm regime alienated itself from one after another of those domestic sectors which might have offered it political support, and was grievously at fault in its rural programs. That these conditions engendered animosity toward the Southern dictatorship seems almost certain, and they could have led to a major resistance movement even without North Vietnamese help.

There is little doubt that there was some kind of Viet Minh-derived "stay behind" organization between 1954 and 1960, but it is unclear that they were directed to take over action until 1957 or later. Before that, they were unquestionably recruiting and preparing.

While the visible guerilla incidents increased gradually, the key policy decisions by the North were made in 1959. Early in this period, there was a greater degree of conflict in Laos than in South Vietnam. US combat involvement was, at first, greater in Laos, but the activity of advisors, and increasingly US direct support to South Vietnamese soldiers, increased, under US military authority, in late 1959 and early 1960. Communications intercepts in 1959, for example, confirmed the start of the Ho Chi Minh trail and other preparation for large-scale fighting. North Vietnam declared its public support for communist insurgents in South Vietnam. The communist forces in South Vietnam established the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (Viet Cong). At the same time, the United States helped the South Vietnamese regime conduct its war strategy. Despite this assistance, the communist forces still won on the battlefield, fighting several large campaigns next to the big cities. Diệm was unable to take control of political crisis and was overthrown by the Council of Revolutionary Military (some documents of both sides suggest that it was the United States which had given the green light for this coup). After several years of chaos, the Ngô Đình Diệm government came to an end in 1963 and South Vietnam then fell into management crisis.

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