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SFA History Class 134 under Dr. Brophy
from the book America's Longest War -- Hit List

Please note:  This page is not intended to take the place of the lecture and reading assignments but as a study aid.  This was prepared for my own personal use but feel free to print it out and use it if you want to.  I would appreciate hearing from you on updating any missing information or misinformation so I can update it.  If we all work together we might create a site for this class and instructor that we can use in the future.  I have not attempted to include every detail but a general idea to help with remembering the information.  E-mail me at  Tee .

1.  Vietminh -- created by Ho Chi Minh, a political organization and conceived the strategy to drive the French from Vietnam composed of appx 5,000 people, wanted immediate self-government and eventual independence, unification of their country,
armed by the US, they work with OSS of America and provide us with info on Japanese movements, evaded major engagements and relied on guerrilla warfare.

2.  Franklin Roosevelt's attitude toward France and Colonialism -- believed that colonialism was doomed and that the US should identify with the forces of nationalism, Roosevelt dislike the French leader and regarded the French as poor colonizers who had mismanaged Indochina and exploited is people, advocated placing Indochina under international trusteeship in preparation for independence.

3.  Background of Ho Chi Minh -- young man who likes the self- determination doctrine, joined the French Communist party when his petition for democratic reforms in Vietnam were rejected, revolutionary organizer trained in Moscow, organized the Indochinese Communist party,  founded Vietminh political party, skillfully tapped the reservoir of Vietnamese nationalism,
declared independent N Vietnam

4.  American attitudes toward Ho and the Vietminh in 1946 - 1947 -- from the beginning the US and the Vietminh viewed each other through badly distorted lenses, -in US eyes, the Vietnamese were a passive and uninformed people unready for self-government, believed that if they were to obtain independence from France they would be susceptible to Communism and was reinforced by Ho's ties with Moscow, we refused Ho's appeals for support

5.  Domino theory and Indochina -- the belief that the fall of Indochina would cause in rapid succession the collapse of the other nations of Southeast Asia,   if Vietnam goes Communist then so would Cambodia and Laos and so on until reached India, this would cause losses of raw materials and people, jeopardizing America's strategic position in the Far East, and driving Japan into the Communist camp,

6.  Bao Dai -- emperor in South Vietnam, seemed to be the only alternative to Communist domination of Indochina, by backing Bao Dai the US would at least avoid the appearance of being an accomplice of French imperialism, the US recognized government and initiated plans to support them with economic and technical assistance.

7.  Navarre Plan -- proposed a Vietnamese National Army and established a new training program, in order to achieve this Navarre was going to recall his scattered forces from their isolated garrisons and combine them with the new forces available to him composed of the French  and initiate a major offensive, advised the US that it would require additional aid and without the add'l aid it could not implement the plan and would have to consider withdrawal from Indochina.

8.  Dienbienphu -- battle between French and Vietminh in northwest corner of Vietnam, French take the low ground by the airstrip and assumed that the Vietminh couldn't get artillery up on the hills (underestimated them), this airstrip was important because it was the only way that the French could resupply and get their wounded out.  Vietminh dismantled their artillery and carried, dragged, whatever means necessary to place their artillery on the hill, closed down the airstrip and kept it closed, slowly dig their way to the French and defeat them.  Last big battle for France.

9.  Operation VULTURE -- called for the bombing of Vietminh supply lines and entrenchment around Dienbienphu by US B-29's which were unmarked or camouflaged with French markings and flown by either French or American military pilots.  This proposal won little support in Washington arguing that air power alone could not ensure victory and that ground forces would have to fight,  the US wanted British support for a coalition to check Communist expansion in Southeast Asia, the operation was a no go.

10.  Eisenhower / Dulles and the use of American forces in 1954 -- both agreed that Ho chi Minh was an instrument of international communism and that the fall of Indochina would cause the loss of all of Southeast Asia with disastrous political, economic, and strategic consequences for the US.  insisted that new leadership was needed,

11.  Geneva Accords of 1954 -- US never signs the accords and our diplomat is never allowed to participate, accords called for the Vietminh to accept a temporary partition of Vietnam at the 17th parallel to allow for regrouping of military forces following a cease-fire, agreed that this is a temporary division and was not to be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary, the country was to be reunified by election and supervised by an international commission, all foreign troops are to leave Vietnam, neither were to join a military alliances and that the people in Vietnam would have 1 year to freely relocate across the N and S border with no reprisals.  The accords placed some limits on outside intervention.

12.  Ngo Dinh Diem's background -- a nationalist and anti-Communist, attended French Catholic schools and the school of public administration, a devout Catholic, lectured in the US and made influential friends, pushes Bao Dai out in '55 in a rigged election saying do you want an emperor or a democracy, wins head of state but the power is given to someone else, paid lip service to democracy but in practice he assumed absolute powers,

13.  Cao Dai and Hoa Hao -- a political sect, represented the most potent political forces in the fragmented society of post Geneva Vietnam, organized like the catholic church with a pope at the head, between them could claim appx 3 million followers, Diem offered cabinet posts to win their support but refused the autonomy within their own territories

14.  Binh Xuyen -- a mafialike organization headed by Bay  Vien, earned huge revenues from gambling and prostitution, Diem refused to negotiate with them.  The two sects joined forces against Ngo Dinh Diem and engaged in open warfare

15.  American Friends of Vietnam -- in the US, composed of liberals and conservatives, created to enlighten Americans about the "realities" in Vietnam and lobby the US govt. to support Diem saying that a free Vietnam means a greater guarantee of freedom in the world,

16.  MAAG's (Military Assistance & Advisory Group) activities (Focus on the problems facing MAAG and the type of warfare   it  tried to prepare the South Vietnamese Army to fight.) -- military advisors in Vietnam to assist in the training of Vietnamese soldiers capable of maintaining internal security and holding the line against an invasion from the north until outside forces could be brought in, essentially creating a modern army, focus was on conventional warfare which this was not a conventional war, Diem was determined to maintain a tight control over the army and bypassed the MAAG's efforts to establish a smoothly functioning command system, employed aggressive offensive tactics,

17.  Buddhist Monk Crisis of 1963 -- govt. troops fired into crowds gathered to protest orders forbidding the display of flags on the anniversary of Buddha's birth.  Buddhist leaders accused the govt. of religious persecution and demanded complete religious freedom which Diem denied and blamed on the Vietcong.  A monk set himself on fire in front of a crowd at a major intersection which eventually happened to 7 monks.  The raid on the pagodas marked the beginning of the end of the Diem regime

18.  Overthrow of Diem -- a revolt in the south believed to have been organized and directed from the North, complex issue, Diem's oppresiveness had created a favorable atmosphere for revolution in the south,  the US urged Diem to  change his ways and reform his govt. to mobilize popular support unsuccessfully, govt. was overthrown and murdered in '63

19.  Agroville Program -- Diem program to combat the rising violence in the countryside,  intent was to relocate the peasantry in areas where the army could protect them from guerrilla terror and propaganda, attempted to make this program attractive by providing the new communities with schools, medical facilities, and electricity,  the peasants resented the forced removal from their homes and lands, also helped to spawn enormous rural discontent with the govt.

20.  Strategic Hamlet Program -- designed to isolate the Vietcong from its principal source of support, the people of south Vietnam, the plan was to collect peasants from scattered villages into hamlets surrounded by moats an bamboo stake fences protected by military forces.  Ultimate objective was to reduce the guerrillas to bands of outlaws devoting all their energies to remaining alive and force them out of their hideouts where the Vietcong would have to fight the Republic of Vietnam on its terms.  The large-scale uprooting added to the discontent.

21.  National Liberation Front (Vietcong) -- founded by southern revolutionaries, a broad based organization led by Communists designed to rally all those disaffected with Diem by promising sweeping reforms and the establishment of genuine independence, Vietcong was a term applied to the guerrillas by the Diem regime meaning "Vietnam Communist" with derogatory implications,

22.  Tonkin Gulf Incident -- the destroyer USS Maddox encountered a group of North Vietnamese torpedo boats which closed in on the destroyer and in a brief engagement, the Maddox opened fire, the patrol boats launched torpedoes, and aircraft from the USS Ticonderoga joined the fighting. 1 torpedo boat was damaged and others driven away.  To avoid an appearance of weakness and to additional claims to freedom of the seas, the Navy ordered the Maddox to resume operation in the Gulf and sent the destroyer C. Turner Joy to support it.  The two reported being under attack during heavy seas and contradicted themselves stating there had been no "visual sightings" and a complete evaluation of evidence should be make before retaliation was ordered.  President Johnson authorized retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnamese torpedo boat bases and nearby oil storage dumps which destroyed or damaged 25 patrol boats and 90% of the oil storage facilities at Vinh.

23.  Tonkin Gulf Resolution -- Johnson asked for a congressional resolution authorizing him to take "all necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the US and to prevent further aggression".  The purpose was to indicate to North Vietnam that the nation was united in its determination to stand firm in Vietnam and to demonstrate that he could be firm in defending American interest without recklessly expanding the war.

24.  FLAMING DART -- a plan of reprisal strikes, American aircraft struck North Vietnamese military installation just across the 17th parallel.

25.  CEDAR FALLS -- a major campaign of early 1967, sent 30,000 US troops against the Iron Triangle, a stronghold just north of Saigon, B-52's saturated the area, American forces surrounded it, and helicopters dropped large #'s of combat troops into the villages, the population was removed and giant plows with huge spikes on the front leveled the area destroying the vegetation leaving the guerrillas no place to hide.  Then the region was burned and bombed again the destroy the miles of underground tunnels.

26.  ROLLING THUNDER -- gradually intensified air attacks against N Vietnam, policy of "sustained reprisal", concentrated on military bases, supply depots, ahd infiltration routes into the southern part of the country, provided for the introduction of the first US ground forces in anticipation of retaliatory attacks, was expanded to include strikes against petroleum storage facilities and transportation networks, steel factories, power plants, and others

27.  Tet Offensive -- a massive coordinated assault against the major urban areas of South Vietnam initiated by North Vietnam and Hanoi as large scale diversionary tactics, the new strategy was to lure American troops away from the major population centers and maintain heavy US casualties, the first phase worked, the 2nd phase was timed to coincide with Vietnamese holidays which during the past was observed by both sides, the 1st attack was brutal against a US embassy and one of the most brutal,

28.  My Lai -- village in which the murder of more than 200 civilians, including women and children took place and revealed the hostility that some American had come to feel for all Vietnamese, a US court found Lt. William Calley guilty of at least 22 murders in the incident of '68 and sentenced to life in prison

29.  OPERATION RANCHHAND -- herbicide used on a wide scale with devastating ecological consequences to deprive the guerrillas of natural cover,  sprayed more than 100 million pounds of chemicals such as Agent Orange over millions of acres of forests, destroying timberlands and leaving human and ecological costs yet to de determined.

30.  Pentagon Papers -- a history of decision making in Vietnam based on secret Defense Dept. documents and leaked by a former Pentagon official, Daniel Ellsberg, confirmed what critics had been arguing, that Kennedy and Johnson had consistently misled the public about their intentions in Vietnam

31.  LINEBACKER -- vastly exceeded all previous attacks on N Vietnam,  Nixon's response US planes dropped "smart" bomb guided by computer and the conventional military tactics employed by N Vietnamese in '72 depended on vast quantities of fuel and ammo which the intensive bombing attacks along with the blockade made resupply difficult, flying round-the-clock, pummeling N Vietnam supply lines and encampments

32.  Christmas Bombings of 1972 -- bombing of the North Vietnamese during a 12 day period in which the US unleashed the most intensive and devastating attacks of the war exceeding the tonnage during the entire period between '69--'71, the north had a heavy toll and evoked cries of outrage across the world,  Soviets and Chinese responded angrily, the reaction at home was one of shock and anger and Nixon was accused of being a madman, peace negotiations resumed with a commitment to a settlement by all parties

33.  Terms of the "Peace" Agreement -- merely established a framework for continuing the war without direct US participation,  it permitted US extrication from the war and secured the return on most of the POW's, north Vietnamese troops remained in the south, the future of the south was to be resolved later by political means, the US would continue to recognize the govt. of S. Vietnam as the sole govt.,  we continued to support the south by giving military and economic aid and response with full force if the north violated the agreements, we agreed to provide Hanoi with aid for reconstruction and commodities,


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