Operation Menu

Operation Menu was the codename of a covert United States Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombing campaign conducted in eastern Cambodia from 18 March 1969 until 26 May 1970 as part of both the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War. The targets of these attacks were sanctuaries and Base Areas of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN — commonly referred to during the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army [NVA]) and forces of the Viet Cong (NLF), which utilized them for resupply, training, and resting between campaigns across the border in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The impact of the bombing campaign on the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the PAVN, and Cambodian civilians in the bombed areas is disputed by historians.

An official United States Air Force record of U.S. bombing activity over Indochina from 1964 to 1973 was declassified by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000. The report gives details of the extent of the bombing of Cambodia, as well as of Laos and Vietnam. According to the data, the Air Force began bombing the rural regions of Cambodia along its South Vietnam border in 1965 under the Johnson administration; this was four years earlier than previously believed. The Menu bombings were an escalation of what had previously been tactical air attacks. Newly inaugurated President Richard Nixon authorized for the first time use of long range B-52 heavy bombers to carpet bomb Cambodia.

Operation Freedom Deal immediately followed Operation Menu. Under Freedom Deal, B-52 bombing was expanded to a much larger area of Cambodia and continued until August 1973.

Background

From the onset of hostilities in South Vietnam and the Kingdom of Laos in the early 1960s, Cambodia's Prince Norodom Sihanouk had maintained a delicate domestic and foreign policy balancing act. Convinced of the inevitable victory of the communists in Southeast Asia and concerned for the future existence of his government, Sihanouk swung toward the left in the mid-1960s.[1]

In 1966, Sihanouk made an agreement with Zhou En-lai of the People's Republic of China that would allow PAVN and NLF forces to establish Base Areas in Cambodia and to use the port of Sihanoukville for the delivery of military material.[2] The US, heavily involved in South Vietnam, was not eager to openly violate the asserted neutrality of Cambodia, which had been guaranteed by the Geneva Accord of 1954.

Beginning in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized covert reconnaissance operations by the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group.[3] The mission of the highly classified unit was to obtain military intelligence on the Base Areas (Project Vesuvius) that would be presented to Sihanouk in hopes of changing his position.[4]

Mao Sihanouk
Meeting in Beijing: Mao Zedong (l), Prince Sihanouk (c), and Liu Shaoqi (r)

By late 1968, Sihanouk, under pressure from the political right at home and from the US, agreed to more normalized relations with the Americans.[5] In July 1968, he had agreed to reopen diplomatic relations and, in August, formed a Government of National Salvation under the pro-US General Lon Nol.[6] Newly inaugurated President Richard M. Nixon, seeking any means by which to withdraw from Southeast Asia and obtain "peace with honor", saw an opening with which to give time for the US withdrawal, and time to implement the new policy of Vietnamization. Before the diplomatic amenities with Sihanouk were even concluded, Nixon had decided to deal with the situation of PAVN troops and supply bases in Cambodia. He had already considered a naval blockade of the Cambodian coast, but was talked out of it by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), who believed that Sihanouk could still be convinced to agree to ground attacks against the Base Areas.[7]

On 30 January 1969, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Earle Wheeler had suggested to the president that he authorize the bombing of the Cambodian sanctuaries. He was seconded on 9 February by the U.S. commander in Vietnam, General Creighton W. Abrams, who also submitted his proposal to bomb the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN), the elusive headquarters of PAVN/NLF southern operations, located somewhere in the Fishhook region of eastern Cambodia.

On 22 February, during the period just following the Tết holidays, PAVN/NLF forces launched an offensive. Nixon became even more angered when the communists launched rocket and artillery attacks against Saigon, which he considered a violation of the "agreement" he believed had been made when the US halted the bombing of North Vietnam in November 1968.

Nixon, who was en route to Brussels for a meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders, ordered his National Security Advisor, Dr. Henry Kissinger, to prepare for airstrikes against PAVN/NLF Base Areas in Cambodia as a reprisal. The bombings were to serve three purposes: it would show Nixon's tenacity; it would disable PAVN's offensive capability to disrupt the US withdrawal and Vietnamization; and it would demonstrate the US' determination, "that might pay dividends at the negotiating table in Paris."[8] He then cabled Colonel Alexander Haig, a National Security Council staff aide, to meet him in Brussels along with Colonel Raymond Sitton, a former Strategic Air Command officer on the JCS staff, to formulate a plan of action.[9]

By seeking advice from high administration officials, Nixon had delayed any quick response that could be explicitly linked to the provocation. He decided to respond to the next provocation and didn't have to wait long. On 14 March, communist forces once again attacked South Vietnam's urban areas and Nixon was ready.

Breakfast to Dessert

Map of Communist Base Areas, as used in Operation Menu
Communist Base Areas

In his diary in March 1969, Nixon's chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, noted that the final decision to carpet bomb Cambodia 'was made at a meeting in the Oval Office Sunday afternoon, after the church service'.

In his diary on 17 March 1969, Haldeman wrote:

Historic day. K[issinger]'s "Operation Breakfast" finally came off at 2:00 pm our time. K really excited, as is P[resident].

And the next day:

K's "Operation Breakfast" a great success. He came beaming in with the report, very productive. A lot more secondaries than had been expected. Confirmed early intelligence. Probably no reaction for a few days, if ever.

The bombing began on the night of 18 March with a raid by 60 B-52 Stratofortress bombers, based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The target was Base Area 353, the supposed location of COSVN in the Fishhook.[10] Although the aircrews were briefed that their mission was to take place in South Vietnam, 48 of the bombers were diverted across the Cambodian border and dropped 2,400 tons of bombs.[11] The mission was designated Breakfast, after the morning Pentagon planning session at which it was devised.

Breakfast was so successful (in U.S. terms) that General Abrams provided a list of 15 more known Base Areas for targeting.[12] The five remaining missions and targets were: Lunch (Base Area 609), Snack (Base Area 351), Dinner (Base Area 352), Supper (Base Area 740), and Dessert (Base Area 350).[13] SAC flew 3,800 B-52 sorties against these targets, and dropped 108,823 tons of ordnance during the missions.[12] Due to the continued reference to meals in the codenames, the entire series of missions was referred to as Operation Menu. Studies and Observations Group forward air controllers of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam provided 70 percent of the Menu bomb damage intelligence[14]

Nixon and Kissinger went to great lengths to keep the missions secret. In order to prevent criticism of the bombing, an elaborate dual reporting system of the missions had been formulated during the Brussels meeting between Nixon, Haig, and Colonel Sitton.[15]

System

The number of individuals who had complete knowledge of the operation was kept to a minimum. All communications concerning the missions was split along two paths – one route was overt, ordering typical B-52 missions that were to take place within South Vietnam near the Cambodian border – the second route was covert, utilizing back-channel messages between commanders ordering the classified missions. For example: General Abrams would request a Menu strike. His request went to Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), in Honolulu. McCain forwarded it to the Joint Chiefs in Washington DC, who, after reviewing it, passed it on to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird (who might consult with the president). The Joint Chiefs then passed the command for the strike to General Bruce K. Holloway, Commander of SAC, who then notified Lieutenant General Alvin C. Gillem, Commander of the 3rd Air Division on Guam.[16]

During this time Air Force Major Hal Knight was supervising an MSQ-77 Combat Skyspot radar site at Bien Hoa Air Base, RVN. "Skyspot" was a ground directed bombing system which directed B-52 strikes to targets in Vietnam. Each day a courier plane would arrive from SAC's Advanced Echelon Office at Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon. Knight was given a revised list of target coordinates for the next day's missions. That evening, the coordinates were fed into Olivetti Programma 101 computers.[17] and then relayed to the aircraft as they came on station. Only the pilots and navigators of the aircraft (who had been personally briefed by General Gillem and sworn to secrecy) knew of the true location of the targets.[18][19] The bombers then flew on to their targets and delivered their payloads. After the air strikes, Knight gathered the mission paperwork, computer tapes etc., destroying them in an incinerator. He then called a special phone number in Saigon and reported that "The ball game is over."[18] The aircrews filled out routine reports of hours flown, fuel burned, and ordnance dropped. This dual system maintained secrecy and provided Air Force logistics and personnel administrators with information that they needed to replace air crews or aircraft and replenish stocks of fuel and munitions.[20]

Exposure

Although Sihanouk was not informed by the U.S. about the operation, he may have had a desire to see PAVN/NLF forces out of Cambodia, since he himself was precluded from pressing them too hard.[21] After the event, it was claimed by Nixon and Kissinger that Sihanouk had given his tacit approval for the raids, but this is dubious.[22] Sihanouk told U.S. diplomat Chester Bowles on January 10, 1968, that he would not oppose American "hot pursuit" of retreating North Vietnamese troops "in remote areas [of Cambodia]," provided that Cambodians were unharmed. Kenton Clymer notes that this statement "cannot reasonably be construed to mean that Sihanouk approved of the intensive, ongoing B-52 bombing raids ... In any event, no one asked him. ... Sihanouk was never asked to approve the B-52 bombings, and he never gave his approval."[23] During the course of the Menu bombings, Sihanouk's government formally protested "American violation[s] of Cambodian territory and airspace" at the United Nations on over 100 occasions, although it "specifically protested the use of B-52s" only once, following an attack on Bu Chric in November 1969.[24][25]

On 9 May 1969, an article by military reporter William M. Beecher exposing the bombing was run in the New York Times.[26] Beecher claimed that an unnamed source within the administration had provided the information. Nixon was furious when he heard the news and ordered Kissinger to obtain the assistance of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover and discover the source of the leak.[18] Hoover suspected Kissinger's own NSC aide, Morton Halperin, of the deed and so informed Kissinger. Halperin's phone was then illegally tapped for 21 months.[27] This was the first in a series of illegal surveillance activities authorized by Nixon in the name of national security. The administration was relieved when no other significant press reports concerning the operation appeared.

By the summer, five members of the United States Congress had been informed of the operation. They were: Senators John C. Stennis (MS) and Richard B. Russell, Jr. (GA) and Representatives Lucius Mendel Rivers (SC), Gerald R. Ford (MI), and Leslie C. Arends (IL). Arends and Ford were leaders of the Republican minority and the other three were Democrats on either the Armed Services or Appropriations committees.

For those in Washington who were cognizant of the Menu raids, the silence of one party came as a surprise. The Hanoi government made no protest concerning the bombings. It neither denounced the raids for propaganda purposes, nor, according to Kissinger, did its negotiators "raise the matter during formal or secret negotiations."[28] North Vietnam had no wish to advertise the presence of their forces in Cambodia, allowed by Sihanouk in return for the Vietnamese agreeing not to foment rebellion in Cambodia.

Revelations

For four years Menu remained unknown to the U.S. Congress as a whole, although as previously mentioned five Congressmen had been informed. That situation changed in December 1972, when Major Knight wrote a letter to Senator William Proxmire (D, WI), asking for "clarification" as to U.S. policy on the bombing of Cambodia. Knight, who had become concerned over the legality[29] of his actions, had complained to his superior officer, Colonel David Patterson. He then received several bad efficiency reports, which ruined his career, and he had been discharged from the Air Force.[30]

GEN George Brown
Air Force General George S. Brown, the man who informed the Senate Armed Services Committee

Proxmire's further questioning led to hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which eventually demanded that the Department of Defense turn over all records of U.S. air operations in Cambodia. When they arrived, the records did not even mention the Menu strikes. The committee was not convinced and the investigation continued. Less than two weeks later, it opened hearings on the nomination of General George S. Brown for the position of chief of staff of the Air Force. As commander of the Seventh Air Force in South Vietnam, Brown had been privy to Menu and disclosed as much to the committee.

For the next eight days the committee listened to the testimony of administration officials and the Joint Chiefs, who tried to justify their actions. The committee uncovered excuses and deceptions that were perhaps more alarming than those occurring simultaneously in the Watergate hearings.[31] The Menu revelations raised "fundamental questions as to military discipline and honesty, of civilian control over the military and of Congressional effectiveness."[30] It was basically agreed, both by Congress and concerned military officers, that the deception employed during Menu went beyond covertness. According to Air Force historian Captain Earl H. Tilford: "Deception to fool the enemy was one thing, but lying to Congress and key members of the government, including the chief of staff of the Air Force and the secretary of the Air Force, was something else."[32]

Civilian casualties

There are no confirmed estimates of Cambodians killed, wounded, or rendered homeless by Operation Menu. The Department of Defense estimated that the six areas bombed in Operation Menu (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, Dessert, and Supper) had a non-combatant population of 4,247. DOD planners stated that effect of attacks could tend to increase casualties, as could the probable lack of protective shelters around Cambodian homes".[33]

Each of the target areas was small. Area 353 (Breakfast), was only 25 square kilometres (9.7 sq mi) in size and had an estimated population of 1,640 people. B-52s flew 228 sorties into this single area to bomb. Each B-52 can carry up to 108 bombs weighing 225 kilograms (496 lb) and spread them equally over a "box" about 1.5 kilometer long by one-half kilometer wide (1 mile by .3 miles); thus, nearly 25,000 bombs may have been dropped in Area 353 alone. The other target areas had similar saturation rates of bombs.[34]

Following Operation Menu, Operation Freedom Deal continued the bombing of Cambodia for an additional three years and extended the bombing to at least one-half of the country.

Aftermath

The Constitutional issues raised at the hearings became less important when the House Judiciary Committee voted (21–12) against including the administration's falsification of records concerning Menu in the articles of impeachment leveled against President Nixon.[35] One of the key issues that prevented congressional inclusion was the embarrassing fact that five key members of both political parties had been privy to the information and had neither said nor done anything about it.

The consequences of U.S. bombing of Cambodia, positive and negative, are still widely debated by participants and scholars. As for preventing further North Vietnamese offensives, they failed. In May 1969, PAVN/NLF launched an offensive similar in size to that of the mini-Tet offensive of the previous year. It certainly cost North Vietnam the effort and manpower to disperse and camouflage their Cambodian sanctuaries to prevent losses to further air attack. President Nixon claimed the raids were a success, since air power alone had to provide a shield for withdrawal and Vietnamization. They certainly emboldened Nixon to launch the Cambodian Campaign of 1970.[36]

While out of the country on 18 March 1970, the prince was deposed by the National Assembly and replaced by Lon Nol. The Nixon administration, although thoroughly aware of the weakness of Lon Nol's forces and loath to commit American military force to the new conflict in any form other than air power, announced its support of the newly proclaimed Khmer Republic.[37][38] In response, the prince quickly aligned himself with the Khmer Rouge; this was a major boon to the communist insurgents, whose movement "started growing as on yeast." On 29 March 1970, the North Vietnamese launched an offensive against the Cambodian army, with documents uncovered after 1991 from the Soviet archives revealing that the invasion was launched at the explicit request of the Khmer Rouge following negotiations with Nuon Chea.[39] Historian Jussi Hanhimäki writes that "the MENU operations pushed the North Vietnamese forces...in east Cambodia westward. American bombers followed suit." [40]

Author William Shawcross and other commentors asserted that the "Khmer Rouge were born out of the inferno that American policy did much to create" and that Sihanouk's "collaboration with both powers [the United States and North Vietnam] ... was intended to save his people by confining the conflict to the border regions. It was American policy that engulfed the nation in war."[41]

Shawcross was challenged by former Kissinger aide Peter Rodman as follows:

When Congress, in the summer of 1973, legislated an end to U.S. military action in, over, or off the shores of Indochina, the only U.S. military activity then going on was air support of a friendly Cambodian government and army desperately defending their country against a North Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge onslaught ... What destabilized Cambodia was North Vietnam's occupation of chunks of Cambodian territory from 1965 onwards for use as military bases from which to launch attacks on U.S. and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.[42]

Kissinger in an interview with Theo Sommer defended the bombing, saying:

People usually refer to the bombing of Cambodia as if it had been unprovoked, secretive U.S. action. The fact is that we were bombing North Vietnamese troops that had invaded Cambodia, that were killing many Americans from these sanctuaries, and we were doing it with the acquiescence of the Cambodian government, which never once protested against it, and which, indeed, encouraged us to do it. I may have a lack of imagination, but I fail to see the moral issue...[43]

The simultaneous rise of the Khmer Rouge and the increase in area and intensity of U.S. bombing between 1969 and 1973 has incited speculation as to the relationship between the two events. Ben Kiernan, Director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, said the following:

Apart from the large human toll, perhaps the most powerful and direct impact of the bombing was the political backlash it caused ... The CIA's Directorate of Operations, after investigations south of Phnom Penh, reported in May 1973 that the communists there were successfully 'using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda' ... The U.S. carpet bombing of Cambodia was partly responsible for the rise of what had been a small-scale Khmer Rouge insurgency, which now grew capable of overthrowing the Lon Nol government ...[44]

Shawcross's and Kiernan's views were echoed in a 2011 statistical study of U.S. bombing in Vietnam which concluded that the air war "was counterproductive ... hampered the pacification campaign and more of it would likely have hastened the communist victory."[45]

When Phnom Penh was under siege by the Khmer Rouge in 1973, the US Air Force again launched a bombing campaign on Communist forces, claiming that it had saved Cambodia from an otherwise inevitable Communist take-over and that the capital might have fallen in a matter of weeks. By 1975, President Ford was predicting "new horrors" if the Khmer Rouge took power, and calling on Congress to provide additional economic, humanitarian, and military aid for Cambodia and Vietnam.[46]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Arnold Isaacs, Gordon Hardy, MacAlister Brown, et al., Pawns of War. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1987, p. 83.
  2. ^ Isaacs, Hardy, & Brown, p. 85.
  3. ^ Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Command History 1967, Annex F, Saigon, 1968, p. 4.
  4. ^ Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Command History 1968 Annex F, Saigon, 1969, p. 27.
  5. ^ Isaacs, Hardy, & Brown, p. 88
  6. ^ Isaacs, Hardy, and Brown, p. 90.
  7. ^ Bernard C. Nalty, Air War Over South Vietnam. Washington DC: Air Force History and Museums Program, 2000, p. 127.
  8. ^ Nalty, p. 129.
  9. ^ John Morocco, Operation Menu. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1988, p. 136.
  10. ^ William Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia. New York: Washington Square press, 1979, pps. 23–24.
  11. ^ John Morocco, Rain of Fire: Air War, 1969–1973. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1985, p. 13.
  12. ^ a b Morocco, Rain of Fire, p. 13.
  13. ^ Kissinger, Henry (12 May 2011). White House Years: The First Volume of His Classic Memoirs. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780857207104.
  14. ^ Morocco, Operation Menu, pgs. 131–2.
  15. ^ Hersh, Seymour (29 October 2013). The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476765228.
  16. ^ This chain of command system is covered in Nalty, p. 130.
  17. ^ Rotter, Andrew J, ed. (1991). Light at the end of the tunnel: a Vietnam War anthology. St. Martin's Press. p. 280. ISBN 0312045298.
  18. ^ a b c Morocco, Rain of Fire, p. 14.
  19. ^ William C. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1976, p. 389.
  20. ^ Nalty, p. 131.
  21. ^ Isaacs, Hardy, & Brown, p. 89.
  22. ^ Shawcross, pps. 68–71 & 93–94.
  23. ^ Clymer, Kenton (2013). The United States and Cambodia, 1969–2000: A Troubled Relationship. Routledge. pp. 14–16. ISBN 9781134341566.
  24. ^ Clymer, Kenton (2013). The United States and Cambodia, 1969–2000: A Troubled Relationship. Routledge. pp. 19–20. ISBN 9781134341566.
  25. ^ Alex J. Bellamy (2012). Massacres and Morality: Mass Atrocities in an Age of Civilian Immunity. Oxford University Press. p. 200.
  26. ^ http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/IMG/Beecherstory.pdf
  27. ^ Morocco, Operation Menu, p. 141.
  28. ^ Nalty, p. 132.
  29. ^ UCMJ Article 107 False official statements, with regard to "dual system" reporting.
  30. ^ a b Shawcross, p. 287.
  31. ^ U.S. Senate, Hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Bombing in Cambodia. United States Senate, 93rd Cong, 1st sess. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1973.
  32. ^ Earl H. Tilford, Setup: What the Air Force did in Vietnam and Why. Maxwell Air Force Base AL: Air University Press, 1991, p. 196.
  33. ^ Shawcross, William Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979, pp. 28–29; "William Shawcross vs. Peter Rodman", American Spectator, Vol. 14, No. 7, July 1981, accessed 31 March 2014
  34. ^ Shawcross, p. 28; "Bombing in Cambodia" Hearings Before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 93rd Congress, 1st Session, 1973, accessed 31 Mar 2014; Owen, Taylor and Kiernan, Ben, "Bombs Over Cambodia" The Walrus, October 2006, p. 67
  35. ^ War in the Shadows, p. 149.
  36. ^ Shaw, John M (2005). The Cambodian Campaign. University of Kansas Press. pp. 13–40.
  37. ^ Shawcross, pgs. 181–182 & 194.
  38. ^ Isaacs, Hardy, & Brown, p. 98.
  39. ^ Dmitry Mosyakov, "The Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese Communists: A History of Their Relations as Told in the Soviet Archives," in Susan E. Cook, ed., Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda (Yale Genocide Studies Program Monograph Series No. 1, 2004), p54ff. Available online at: www.yale.edu/gsp/publications/Mosyakov.doc "In April–May 1970, many North Vietnamese forces entered Cambodia in response to the call for help addressed to Vietnam not by Pol Pot, but by his deputy Nuon Chea. Nguyen Co Thach recalls: "Nuon Chea has asked for help and we have liberated five provinces of Cambodia in ten days.""
  40. ^ Hanhimaki, Jussi M. (9 September 2004). The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. Oxford University Press. pp. 70–79. ISBN 9780195346749.
  41. ^ Shawcross, p. 396
  42. ^ Rodman, Peter, Returning to Cambodia, Brookings Institution, August 23, 2007.
  43. ^ Shawcross, p.395
  44. ^ Kiernan, Ben and Owen, Taylor "Roots of U.s. Troubles in Afghanistan: Civilian Bombing Casualties and the Cambodian Precedent" The Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus accessed 1 April 2014
  45. ^ Kocher, Matthew Adam, Pepinsky, Thomas B., and Kalyvas, Stathis N. "Aerial Bombing and Counterinsurgency in the Vietnam War" American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 55, No. 2, April 2011, p. 216
  46. ^ "Transcript of President’s News Conference on Foreign and Domestic Matters", The New York Times, 7 March 1975.

Sources

Unpublished government documents

  • Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Command History 1967, Annex F, Saigon, 1968.
  • Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Command History 1968, Annex F, Saigon, 1969.

Published government documents

  • Head, William H. War from Above the Clouds: B-52 Operations during the Second Indochina War and the Effects of the Air War on Theory and Doctrine. Maxwell Air Force Base AL: Air University Press, 2002.
  • Nalty, Bernard C., Air War over South Vietnam, 1968–1975. Washington DC: Air Force Museums and History Program, 2000. ISBN 978-0-16-050914-8
  • Tilford, Earl H. Setup: What the Air force did in Vietnam and Why. Maxwell Air Force Base AL: Air University Press, 1991.

Memoirs

  • Westmoreland, William C. A Soldier Reports. New York: Doubleday, 1976.

Secondary accounts

  • Isaacs, Arnold, Gordon Hardy, MacAlister Brown, et al., Pawns of War: Cambodia and Laos. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1987. ISBN 978-0-939526-24-6
  • Morocco, John, Operation Menu in War in the Shadows. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1988. ISBN 978-0-939526-38-3
  • Morocco, John, Rain of Fire: Air War, 1969–1975. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1985. ISBN 978-0-939526-14-7
  • Rotter, Andrew J. ed., Light at the end of the tunnel : a Vietnam War anthology; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991 ISBN 0312045298; p. 276ff., Shawcross: Bombing Cambodia—A critique.
  • Shaw, John M. The Cambodian Campaign: The 1970 Offensive and America's Vietnam War. Lawrence KS: University of Kansas Press, 2005.
  • Shawcross, William, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia. New York: Washington Square Books, 1979. ISBN 978-0-671-83525-5
  • Sorley, Lewis, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. New York: Harvest Books, 1999.
Cambodia (song)

"Cambodia" is the fourth single by British singer Kim Wilde. It was released at the end of 1981; a year in which Wilde had already scored three highly successful hit singles and a best-selling debut album.

The single was another international success, topping the charts in Sweden and Switzerland and hitting the top ten in several other nations. It was released on the 7" format but also as a 12" single in Germany, although not in a remixed or extended version. The B-side of both releases was an exclusive non-album track called "Watching for Shapes".

"Cambodia" was later included on Wilde's second album, Select, which was released six months after the single in May 1982. The album version of "Cambodia" runs for 7:13 minutes, as it is teamed with a more uptempo instrumental version of the song, called "Reprise".

Musically and lyrically, "Cambodia" showed a change in direction for Wilde from the new wave feel of her debut album. The song was mainly synth-driven, with oriental-sounding percussion.

The lyrics were inspired by the Operation Menu bombing campaign of Cambodia by the United States during the Vietnam War.

It has sold 1,080,000 copies in France.

Cambodian Civil War

The Cambodian Civil War (Khmer: សង្គ្រាមស៊ីវិលកម្ពុជា) was a military conflict that pitted the forces of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (known as the Khmer Rouge) and their allies the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the Viet Cong against the government forces of the Kingdom of Cambodia and, after October 1970, the Khmer Republic, which were supported by the United States (U.S.) and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

The struggle was complicated by the influence and actions of the allies of the two warring sides. North Vietnam's People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) involvement was designed to protect its Base Areas and sanctuaries in eastern Cambodia, without which the prosecution of its military effort in South Vietnam would have been more difficult. The Cambodian coup of 18 March 1970 put a pro-American, anti-North Vietnamese government in power and ended Cambodia's neutrality in the Vietnam War. The PAVN was now threatened by a newly unfriendly Cambodian government.

Between March and June 1970, the North Vietnamese moved many of its military installations further inside Cambodia in response to the coup and the establishment of a pro-American government, capturing most of the northeastern third of the country in engagements with the Cambodian army. The North Vietnamese turned over some of their conquests and provided other assistance to the Khmer Rouge, thus empowering what was at the time a small guerilla movement. The Cambodian government hastened to expand its army to combat the North Vietnamese and the growing power of the Khmer Rouge.The U.S. was motivated by the desire to buy time for its withdrawal from Southeast Asia, to protect its ally in South Vietnam, and to prevent the spread of communism to Cambodia. American and both South and North Vietnamese forces directly participated (at one time or another) in the fighting. The U.S. assisted the central government with massive U.S. aerial bombing campaigns and direct material and financial aid.

After five years of savage fighting, the Republican government was defeated on 17 April 1975 when the victorious Khmer Rouge proclaimed the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea. The war caused a refugee crisis in Cambodia with two million people—more than 25 percent of the population—displaced from rural areas into the cities, especially Phnom Penh which grew from about 600,000 in 1970 to an estimated population of nearly 2 million by 1975.

Children were widely used during and after the war, often being persuaded or forced to commit atrocities. The Cambodian government estimated that more than 20 percent of the property in the country had been destroyed during the war. In total, an estimated 275,000–310,000 people were killed as a result of the war.

The conflict was part of the Second Indochina War (1955–1975) which also consumed the neighboring Kingdom of Laos, South Vietnam, and North Vietnam individually referred to as the Laotian Civil War and the Vietnam War respectively. The Cambodian civil war led to the Cambodian Genocide, one of the bloodiest in history.

George Bacon (CIA officer)

George Washington Bacon III (c. 1946 – 14 February 1976) was an American soldier. He served as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army, Paramilitary Officer in Special Activities Division for the Central Intelligence Agency, and finally as a mercenary soldier.

Bacon is remembered as a talented eccentric whose hatred of communism was so great he disobeyed orders to refrain from combat while he served in Vietnam as a member of MACV-SOG. Although trained as a combat medic, he joined raids into Cambodia during Operation Menu.

Following discharge from the U.S. Army, Bacon spent time as a civilian before joining the Central Intelligence Agency. He worked as a case officer for them during the Secret War in Laos through 1975. After supposedly leaving the CIA, he became an anti-communist mercenary in the Angolan Civil War, though he may have been working undercover. He was killed in action while attempting to demolish a crucial highway bridge to block an enemy advance.

History of the Soviet Union

The "History of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union" reflects a period of change for both Russia and the world. Though the terms "Soviet Russia" and "Soviet Union" often are synonymous in everyday speech, when referring to the foundations of the Soviet Union, "Soviet Russia" properly refers to the few years between the October Revolution of 1917 and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

Jarai people

Jarai people or Jarais (in Vietnamese Người Gia Rai, Gia Rai, or Gia-rai; in Khmer ចារ៉ាយ - Chareay) are an ethnic group in Vietnam's Central Highlands (Gia Lai and Kon Tum Provinces with some others in Đắk Lắk Province), as well as in the Cambodian northeast Province of Ratanakiri. During the Vietnam War, many Jarai persons, as well as members of other Montagnard groups (Khmer Loeu and Degar), were involved by the US military in war affairs and thus resettled with their families in the United States, particularly in the state of North Carolina.

The Jarai language is a member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. It is related to the Cham language of central Vietnam and Cambodia and the Malayo-Polynesian languages of Indonesia, Malaysia, Madagascar, Philippines and other Pacific Islands (Hawaii, New Zealand, Easter Island, Samoa, Guam and Fiji). The Jarai speakers are approximately 332,557. They are the largest of the upland ethnic groups of the Central Highlands known as Degar or Montagnards and the 23% of the population of Ratanakiri Province in Cambodia. Both groups, the Cambodian and Vietnamese Jarai, share the same traditions and keep a close relation of cultural interchange, but their language gets the influence of their respectively Khmer and Vietnamese linguistic environment. A few of khmer Jarai words are borrowed from Khmer and Lao. While trading conversation between Khmer Jarai and Vietnamese Jarai, there can be some perplexity among them. The Vietnamese Jarai has a written form in Latin scripts, but the Khmer Jarai does not.

Kratié Province

Kratié or Kraches (Khmer: ក្រចេះ IPA: [krɑˈceh], "Powder Cosmetic") is a province (khaet) of Cambodia located in the northeast. It borders Stung Treng to the north, Mondulkiri to the east, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham to the west, and Tbong Khmum and Vietnam to the south.

The capital of the province is the town of Kratié located in Kratié District.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1970)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1970, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the Khmer Republic, the United States and their allies.

Menu (disambiguation)

A menu is a list of foods at a restaurant.

Menu may also refer to:

Menu (computing), a list of options

Menu (film), 1933 American film

Menu Foods, a pet food company

Menu key, on a keyboard

Operation Menu, a bombing campaign

Alain Menu (born 1963) , Swiss racing driver

Bernadette Menu (born 1942), French Egyptologist

Michel Menu (1916–2015),French engineer and author

The Menu, 2015 Hong Kong television series

The Menu (film), 2016 Hong Kong film

Operation Freedom Deal

Operation Freedom Deal was a United States Seventh Air Force interdiction and close air support campaign waged in Cambodia between 19 May 1970 and 15 August 1973, as an expansion of the Vietnam War, as well as the Cambodian Civil War. Launched by Richard Nixon as a follow-up to the earlier ground invasion during the Cambodian Campaign, the initial targets of the operation were the base areas and border sanctuaries of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Viet Cong (VC). As time went on most of the bombing was carried out to support the Cambodian government of Lon Nol in its struggle against the communist Khmer Rouge. The area in which the bombing took place was expanded to include most of the eastern one-half of Cambodia. The bombing was extremely controversial, and led the US Congress to pass the War Powers Resolution.Operation Freedom Deal followed and expanded the bombing of Cambodia conducted under Operation Menu in 1969 and 1970. Most of the bombing was carried out by U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-52 bombers. While the effectiveness of the bombing and the number of Cambodians killed by U.S. bombing is in dispute, civilian fatalities were easily in the tens of thousands.

Operation Patio

Operation Patio was a covert aerial interdiction effort conducted by the U.S. Seventh Air Force in Cambodia from 24–29 April 1970 during the Vietnam War. It served as a tactical adjunct to the heavier B-52 Stratofortress bombing missions being carried out in Operation Menu.

Outline of the Vietnam War

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Vietnam War:

Vietnam War – Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War (1946–54) and was fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States, Philippines and other anti-communist allies. The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam, also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units to battle.

Richard Nixon

Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was an American politician who served as the 37th president of the United States from 1969 to 1974. He had previously served as the 36th vice president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and prior to that as both a U.S. representative and senator from California.

Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. After completing his undergraduate studies at Whittier College, he graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law. He and his wife Pat moved to Washington in 1942 to work for the federal government. He subsequently served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. His pursuit of the Hiss Case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist and elevated him to national prominence. He was the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as Vice President, becoming the second-youngest vice president in history at age 40. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and lost a race for governor of California to Pat Brown in 1962. In 1968, he ran for the presidency again and was elected, defeating incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Nixon ended American involvement in the war in Vietnam in 1973 and brought the American POWs home, and ended the military draft. Nixon's visit to China in 1972 eventually led to diplomatic relations between the two nations and he initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year. His administration generally transferred power from Washington D.C. to the states. He imposed wage and price controls for ninety days, enforced desegregation of Southern schools, established the Environmental Protection Agency and began the War on Cancer. Nixon also presided over the Apollo 11 moon landing, which signaled the end of the moon race. He was reelected in one of the largest electoral landslides in U.S. history in 1972 when he defeated George McGovern.

In his second term, Nixon ordered an airlift to resupply Israeli losses in the Yom Kippur War, resulting in the restart of the Middle East peace process and an oil crisis at home. The Nixon administration supported a coup in Chile that ousted the government of Salvador Allende and propelled Augusto Pinochet to power. By late 1973, the Watergate scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support. On August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and removal from office—the only time a U.S. president has done so. After his resignation, he was issued a controversial pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford. In 20 years of retirement, Nixon wrote nine books and undertook many foreign trips, helping to rehabilitate his image into that of an elder statesman. He suffered a debilitating stroke on April 18, 1994 and died four days later at the age of 81.

Role of the United States in the Vietnam War

The role of the United States in the Vietnam War began after World War II and escalated into full commitment during the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1973. The U.S. involvement in South Vietnam stemmed from 20 long years of political and economic action. These had the common incentive of ending the growing communist domination in Vietnam. At the time, French forces, allies of the U.S., were backed by America — President Harry S. Truman provided progressively increasing amounts of financial and military assistance to French forces fighting in Vietnam. From the spring of 1950, their involvement increased from just assisting French troops to providing direct military assistance to the associated states (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia). Eventually, U.S. missions were carried out at a more constant rate by sending out increasing number of military assistance from the United States. Their main intent was to restrict the Communist domination that was present in the government of Vietnam as it would soon lead to a chain of neighbouring countries adopting the same. This would have resulted in a change in balance of power throughout Southeast Asia. The U.S. foreign policy establishment saw national security interests being disturbed due to the rise of this communist expansion and strived to take any measure to end it. Their actions came to be questioned by other segments of government and society, however, including the US congress..

Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3,812,000. The conflict also resulted in 58,318 US soldiers dead.

Sihanouk Trail

The Sihanouk Trail was a logistical supply system in Cambodia used by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and its Viet Cong (VC) guerillas during the Vietnam War (1960–1975). Between 1966 and 1970, this system operated in the same manner and served the same purposes as the much better known Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese) which ran through the southeastern portion of the Kingdom of Laos. The name is of American derivation, since the North Vietnamese considered the system integral to the supply route mentioned above. U.S. attempts to interdict this system began in 1969.

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR). Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

The Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s. Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism (which he created) and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country, causing the deaths of 3 to 7 million people.Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk. The territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union. The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was eventually succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization. The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, which was among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments.

As part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation. Gorbachev's power was greatly diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union. The remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state.The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus. The country had the world's second largest economy and the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. It was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) and the Warsaw Pact.

Strategic bomber

A strategic bomber is a medium to long range penetration bomber aircraft designed to drop large amounts of air-to-ground weaponry onto a distant target for the purposes of debilitating the enemy's capacity to wage war. Unlike tactical bombers, penetrators, fighter-bombers, and attack aircraft, which are used in air interdiction operations to attack enemy combatants and military equipment, strategic bombers are designed to fly into enemy territory to destroy strategic targets (e.g., infrastructure, logistics, military installations, factories, and cities). In addition to strategic bombing, strategic bombers can be used for tactical missions. There are currently three countries that operate strategic bombers: the United States, Russia, and China.The modern strategic bomber role appeared after strategic bombing was widely employed, and atomic bombs were first used in combat during World War II. Nuclear strike missions (i.e., delivering nuclear-armed missiles or bombs) can potentially be carried out by most modern fighter-bombers and strike fighters, even at intercontinental range, with the use of aerial refueling, so any nation possessing this combination of equipment and techniques theoretically has such capability. Primary delivery aircraft for a modern strategic bombing mission need not always necessarily be a heavy bomber type, and any modern aircraft capable of nuclear strikes at long range is equally able to carry out tactical missions with conventional weapons. An example is France's Mirage IV, a small strategic bomber replaced in service by the ASMP-equipped Mirage 2000N fighter-bomber and Rafale multirole fighter.

Viet Cong

The Việt Cộng (Vietnamese: [vîət kə̂wŋmˀ] (listen)), also known as the National Liberation Front, was a mass political organization in South Vietnam and Cambodia with its own army – the People's Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam (PLAF) – that fought against the United States and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War, eventually emerging on the winning side. It had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized peasants in the territory it controlled. Many soldiers were recruited in South Vietnam, but others were attached to the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the regular North Vietnamese army. During the war, communists and anti-war activists insisted the Việt Cộng was an insurgency indigenous to the South, while the U.S. and South Vietnamese governments portrayed the group as a tool of Hanoi. Although the terminology distinguishes northerners from the southerners, communist forces were under a single command structure set up in 1958.The headquarters of the Viet Cong based at Memot came to be known as Central Office for South Vietnam or COSVN by its Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) and South Vietnamese counterparts, a near-mythical "bamboo Pentagon" from which the Việt Cộng's entire war effort was being directed. For nearly a decade the fabled COSVN headquarters, which directed the entire war effort of the Viet Cong was the target of the RVN/US war effort, and which would have collapsed the insurgency war effort. US and South Vietnamese Special Forces sent to capture them usually were killed very quickly or returned with heavy casualties to the point that teams refused to go. Daily B-52 bombings had failed to kill any of the leadership during Operation Menu despite flattening the entire area, as Soviet trawlers were able to forewarn COSVN, whom used the data on speed, altitude and direction to move perpendicular and to move underground.North Vietnam established the National Liberation Front on December 20, 1960, to foment insurgency in the South. Many of the Việt Cộng's core members were volunteer "regroupees", southern Việt Minh who had resettled in the North after the Geneva Accord (1954). Hanoi gave the regroupees military training and sent them back to the South along the Hồ Chí Minh trail in the early 1960s. The NLF called for southern Vietnamese to "overthrow the camouflaged colonial regime of the American imperialists" and to make "efforts toward the peaceful unification". The PLAF's best-known action was the Tết Offensive, a gigantic assault on more than 100 South Vietnamese urban centers in 1968, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. The offensive riveted the attention of the world's media for weeks, but also overextended the Việt Cộng. Two further offensives were conducted in its wake, the mini-Tet and August Offensive. In 1969 the Việt Cộng would establish the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, a shadow-country in South Vietnam intended to represent the organisation on the world stage and was immediately recognised by the communist bloc and maintained diplomatic links with many nations in the Non-Aligned Movement. Later communist offensives were conducted predominantly by newly mechanised PAVN forces, as the ability of the Việt Cộng to recruit among the South Vietnamese became much more limited. The Việt Cộng remained an active military and political front. The organisation was dissolved in 1976 when North and South Vietnam were officially unified under a communist government.

Political and military organization of the Việt Cộng was complex, with a series of well-constructed, overlapping networks, committees and organisations; see strategy, organization and structure. Material aid was primarily provided through the well-established, ingenious Hồ Chí Minh trail, which withstood the most sustained bombing campaign in history while expanding the war effort; see logistics and equipment. They had further developed a complex insurgency warfare method capable of countering overwhelmingly superior numbers and technology, retaining the strategic initiative during much of the war. According to the Pentagon Papers, 90% of large firefights were initiated by the PAVN/VC and 80% were well-planned VC operations throughout most of the war and as early as 1966 US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara expressed doubt about the US ability to win the war (see NLF and PAVN battle tactics).

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.

American military advisors began arriving in what was then French Indochina in 1950 to support the French in the First Indochina War against the communist-led Viet Minh. Most of the funding for the French war effort was provided by the U.S. After the French quit Indochina in 1954, the US assumed financial and military responsibility for the South Vietnamese state. The Việt Cộng, also known as Front national de libération du Sud-Viêt Nam or NLF (the National Liberation Front), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, initiated a

guerrilla war against the South Vietnamese government in 1959. U.S. involvement escalated in 1960, and continued in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy, with troop levels gradually surging under the MAAG program from just under a thousand in 1959 to 16,000 in 1963.By 1964, there were 23,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam, but this escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U.S. destroyer was alleged to have clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft. In response, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authorization to increase U.S. military presence, deploying ground combat units for the first time and increasing troop levels to 184,000. Past this point, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) engaged in more conventional warfare with US and South Vietnamese forces. Every year onward there was significant build-up of US forces despite little progress, with Robert McNamara, one of the principal architects of the war, beginning to express doubts of victory by the end of 1966. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes. The U.S. conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam. The Tet Offensive of 1968, proved to be the turning point of the war; despite years of American tutelage and aid the South Vietnamese forces were unable to withstand the communist offensive and the task fell to US forces instead. The Tet Offensive showed that the end of US involvement was not in sight, increasing domestic skepticism of the war. The unconventional and conventional capabilities of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) increased following a period of neglect and became modeled on heavy firepower-focused doctrines like US forces. Operations crossed international borders; bordering areas of Laos and Cambodia were used by North Vietnam as supply routes and were heavily bombed by U.S. forces.

Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began as part of "Vietnamization", which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the communists to the South Vietnamese themselves and began the task of modernizing their armed forces. Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973 as a result of the Case–Church Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress. The capture of Saigon by the NVA in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities (see Vietnam War casualties). Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3.8 million. Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict, and a further 1,626 remain missing in action. The Sino-Soviet split re-emerged following the lull during the Vietnam War and confllict between North Vietnam and its Cambodian allies in the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea, and the newly-formed Democratic Kampuchea begun almost immediately in a series of border raids by the Khmer Rouge and erupted into the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, with Chinese forces directly intervening in the Sino-Vietnamese War. The end of the war and resumption of the Third Indochina War would precipitate the Vietnamese boat people and the bigger Indochina refugee crisis, which saw an estimated 250,000 people perish at sea. Within the US the war gave rise to what was referred to as Vietnam Syndrome, a public aversion to American overseas military involvements, which together with Watergate contributed to the crisis of confidence that affected America throughout the 1970s.

Military engagements of the Laotian Civil War

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.