Vietnamese Communist grand strategy

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For more information, see: Wars of Vietnam.
See also: Vietnam War

Vietnamese Communist grand strategy is related to that of Mao Zedong, but diverged considerably from his classical three-phase model. In addition, they came up with a phased model of their enemy's behavior, and then tested their theories against it. Since they now control Vietnam, that does suggest that they eventually came up with a viable model.

Going well before Mao took control over China, there were conflicts within the Indochinese Communist Party about the role of nationalism versus Marxist world revolution; Ho Chi Minh saw decolonialization and nationalism as a first step. Still, the leadership had, in its Marxism, a Stalinist bent, certainly exemplified in the centrally planned economy until the introduction of doi moi market reforms in 1986.

The early ideologues never foresaw the Sino-Soviet split. Both China and the Soviets helped the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, but the tilt to the Soviets angered the Chinese. The fall of the Soviet Union also was unexpected, causing a reassessment of relations with China.

Countering that argument, however, is the reality that they apparently expected a fairly quick resolution when they invaded Cambodia in 1978, and found themselves enmeshed in 13 years of war. When the press started referring to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as the "Soviets' Vietnam", cynics have called the invasion of Cambodia "Vietnam's Vietnam".

One iconoclastic view of the war comes from Harry Summers, who argued it had always been a conventional war. [1] Summers, however, argues with himself when he recounts a conversation with a North Vietnamese colonel, whom he told "You know, you never beat us on the battlefield."

His counterpart pondered, and then responded, "True. But irrelevant." Perhaps when Summers says "conventional", he is considering the Clausewitz doctrine that war is the extension of national politics by military means, thus making political results the goal of conventional warfare.


The strategy clearly draws from general Marxist-Leninist doctrine, and particularly Maoist ideas, but introduced some uniquely Vietnamese ideas. Some come from Vietnamese culture.

Nationalism and revolution

See also: Ho Chi Minh

One of the complex issues of the Vietnamese movement against the French, especially as conceived by Ho Chi Minh, were the relative priorities of nationalism and anticolonialism, as opposed to world Communist revolution. In the 1930s, as the Vietnamese Communist Party formed, the international Communist (i.e., Comintern) position was that any action must simultaneously overthrow colonial rule, but also fight a class war, especially including agrarian land reform. Ho, however, wrote that nationalism had to be achieved first. He did not argue that both objectives were not desirable, but that they need not be simultaneous. [2]

There was a significant tradition of Vietnamese nationalism that long preceded Marxism, principally against Chinese domination, as with the Trung Sisters' revolt in the first century CE. Dai Viet had broken from China in 939 CE, and governed the Red River Delta but eventually collapsed internally by the 14th century;[3] until the Chinese retook control. Later, the area of Dai Viet, widely called Annam, came back under Vietnamese leadership, with consolidation over warlords by the Ly Dynasty,[4] which was eventually overthrown by the final Vietnamese empire, the Nguyen Dynasty. The last Nguyen emperor was Bao Dai, whom the French would use as a symbolic leader.

Other analysts, however, believe Ho, and his supporters, were purely interested in world Communism; that he "owed little to Vietnamese tradition and almost everything to his foreign models, Lenin, Stalin and Mao."[5]

Protracted war

Mao Zedong developed a model of "protracted war" that has been the model for the phases many revolutionary movements:[6]

  1. Organization of the covert guerrilla force, with individual and small attacks, often using the tactic of terrorism
  2. Operations by medium-sized military forces in raids and ambushes, without any attempt to hold ground. These forces could be part-time and melt into the population, or operate from geographic sanctuaries
  3. Conventional military confrontation with the intent of capturing and holding ground

In a purely military context, Vo Nguyen Giap called these "defensive, equilibrium, and offensive". North Vietnamese grand strategy, however, evolved another path, especially in changing the third stage from conventional military victory to a victory in a political, diplomatic, or psychological context. While the final victory ending the 1954 war was at the diplomatic table in Geneva, a good deal of conventional warfare led to the table, especially the French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, in which the Viet Minh used several division equivalents.

Elliott suggests that the North Vietnamese leadership basically was flexible, and, as early as 1961,had altered their model to cope with the "flexible response" doctrine of the Kennedy Administration,[7] which derived from Maxwell Taylor's earlier work.[8]

Between 1959 and 1965, if not 1972, the Vietnamese politburo changed methods. They went back to something close to Mao's third stage in 1972-1975. Against Cambodia, however, they themselves came closer to their model of western behavior. Against China, yet another model might apply, far closer to a Western model of limited war.

Against the French, the Maoist model certainly applied in its first two stages, although while the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and other major military actions were clearly conventional, they were not trying to defeat France on its own territory, which would have been the ultimate Phase 3 victory. Their idea of Phase 3 was conventional warfare in a limited area, possibly with a complete defeat of French forces in Indochina, but, as events established, could be ended at the negotiating table in Geneva.

After Geneva, the Maoist model did not seem to fit, for several reasons: [9]

  1. China and the Soviet Union, allies and suppliers, did not want a resumption of fighting
  2. In 1954, there was to be a referendum on unification in two years, and Hanoi believed it would win
  3. Even elections did not occur, the Party believed that the government of Ngo Dinh Diem was so inherently unstable that there would be a popular General uprising of the people in the South, which, at most, would need support from paramilitary forces.

Vietnamese concepts of military force

Duiker suggests that the definitive Vietnamese version of peoples' war comes from Truong Chinh, in the 1947 Vietnamese-language The Resistance will Win. [10]

With these assumptions, there was no reason to believe, in 1954, that the main forces of the People's Army of Viet Nam would be needed. "Main force", however, should be taken in a Vietnamese context, going well back into pre-communist history. Deception has always been part of their military tradition:[11]

  • Chinh Binh, the "real army" or overt combat arms
  • Ky Binh, a "hidden army" operating with guerrilla or covert techniques
  • Nghi Binh, the "phantom army" that does not actually exist, but that the Vietnamese commander makes the opponent believe does exist

Not by military means alone

By 1956, however, Le Duan, then the Party's main representative in the South, began to argue more active measures were needed than organization alone. The Vietnamese have a general term, dau tranh, usually translated as "struggle". There is "political dau tranh" and "military dau tranh", with fine distinctions in the dau tranh article. Le Duan's recommendation was approved by the Politburo at the Eleventh Plenum in December 1956, phrased as enabling the revolutionary movement in the south to defend itself against "counterrevolutionary terror". The form of such defense might itself take the form of terrorism, which is a large part of the Maoist first phase.

Earlier that year, Ho Chi Minh had said, at the Ninth Plenum in April, that the Soviet idea of a "peaceful road to socialism" might not work given the "aggressive nature of U.S. imperialism and its ally in Saigon"; armed dau tranh might be needed. Some of this idea was part of the statement issued by the Conference of Communist Parties of Socialist Parties (Moscow, November 1957) might be needed.

An argument against the need, however, came in their assessment of Western behavior. In July 1962, Le Duan wrote a letter to Nguyen Van Linh analyzing the lessons learned from the negotiated settlement in Laos. He said that the U.S. would not have settled had there not been military success by the guerrillas. Had they had too much success, might have provoked a full U.S. intervention. "How far we win, and how far they lose, is very important."[12]

Yet another aspect of the grand strategic model is the use of "coalition government" as a term of art. This does not mean a parliamentary coalition in the European sense, but forming a broad front that is increasingly dominated by the former insurgents. [13]

Contrast: their model of western behavior

In his way, Le Duan conceived of an escalation ladder, without the 43 steps described by Herman Kahn,[14] but very much with trigger points that would cause new escalation. The first level was Special War. . The ideal was for the Communists to win at the Special War level, without direct U.S. involvement.

  • Special war: the U.S. used South Vietnamese to do the fighting
  • Local war (khan chien duc bo): Direct U.S. combat intervention in the South; Le Duan saw this as involving 250,000 to 300,000 troops, but would still fall under the protracted war model. At this point, the revolutionary forces could no longer inflict a "mortal blow" on the enemy.
  • "Worst Case": direct Western combat outside the borders of South Vietnam. In September 1965, the Politburo agreed with Le Duan that the U.S. would not attack the North directly, for fear of involving the entire Socialist camp.

Here, Le Duan began to draw some nuanced distinctions. He differentiated from a "decisive victory", typified by Dien Bien Phu, from a "total victory". He believed that "decisive victory" was possible through the General Offensive-General Uprising (Vietnamese abbreviation TCN-TCK), even at a U.S. troop commitment of 500,000 troops.

It was not clear what he considered the "worst case". Presumably, he did not consider the symbolic bombings of Operation ROLLING THUNDER to be a full attack on the North. It can only be speculated if bombing of the intensity in Operation LINEBACKER II would have constituted "worst case", or if the "worst case" required a ground invasion of the North. Certainly, other North Vietnamese wrote that they were greatly concerned with even a limited ground invasion that would cut the Ho Chi Minh trail.

Various North Vietnamese have said that a small invasion would have completely disrupted their ability to fight in the south. Bui Tin asked Gen. Le Trong Tan, PAVN Chief of Staff in 1977, how he would have won the war had he been in charge of U.S. forces.

"A slight shift in strategy, nothing earthshaking, would have made all the difference. The Americans needed to deploy no more than a division of troops in the Dong Hoi panhandle (Quang Binh Province) slightly to the north of the 17th parallel, supported by a fleet of ships off the coast. They could have declared this American incursion into North Vietnam was limited in scope, both in terms of time and space. Not offensive in nature, it was required merely to prevent the People's Army of the North from infiltrating into the South. This strategy would have been lethal, because China would have sat idly by, while, our troops were pinned down, defending our rear in the North, which, of course, was our main and unavoidable priority. The military configuration of the war would have flipped. The impetus of the fighting in the South would have reversed itself. The United States with impunity could have invaded and withdrawn, invaded and withdrawn, with its mobility guaranteed by the covering fire of the Seventh Fleet[15]

Internal revolution

Agrarian reform has always been a key Marxist concept. After Geneva, "independence from Frane was only the ground on which revolution in Vietnam could take place; it was hardly the revolution itself." The ruling Lao Dong Party initiated a major land reform in 1955, under central control. Its implementation was disastrous. Much as with the Cultural Revolution in China, it caused major disruption, and, by mid-1956, had collapsed into a Party self-criticism exercise. Truong Chinh, who had led the program, lost much internal power, including his seat in the Politburo, although he eventually regained it.[16]

Edwin Moise estimated there were between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths, although other Western commentators put the toll between 50,000 (Bernard Fall) and 500,000 (Richard Nixon). Contrary to the belief that it was indicative of future purges and the source of internal resentment, Western interrogations, in the 1960s, indicated that the self-criticism and correction gained popular support. Subsequent agrarian reform and industrialization was much more cautious, but by 1968, 90 percent of the rural North Vietnamese were involved in cooperatives.[17]

While there had been some land reform in the South, it was not as widespread, and the Communists used this as a rallying argument to support the Southern insurgency. The usually intensely anti-communist American journalist, Joseph Alsop, had toured Viet Minh governed areas of the South in 1954, and was shocked to observe that "it was difficult for me, as it is for any Westerner, to conceive of a Communist government's genuinely 'serving the people'. I could hardly imagine a Communist government that was also a popular government and almost a democratic government."[18] This is not to say that the Southern Communists could not be savage to local leaders, even popular ones, who supported the Republic of Vietnam southern government.

First evolution: General Offensive-General Uprising

This was uniquely Vietnamese contribution to revolutionary theory, and, while it never took place, was the planned endpoint of all other actions. In Western terms, it assumed the populace of the South was the center of gravity; upset it and all else would fall.

Nguyen Chi Thanh, writing in the the Party theoretical journal Hoc Tap, [19] called for the need to have simultaneous revolutions in production, technology and ideology. In that context, he called for avoiding excessive dependence on external aid, and increasing self-sufficiency, which may have indicated a desire to be independent of Chinese and Soviet pressure. He also cautioned against the classic error of fighting the last war. [20] He stressed the need to find new and special way to fight the Americans.

In December 1963, the Politburo apparently decided that it was possible to strike for victory in 1965. Theoretician Truong Chinh stated the conflict as less the classic, protracted war of Maoist doctrine, and the destabilization of doctrine under Khrushchev, than a decision that it was possible to accelerate. "on the one hand we must thoroughly understand the guideline for a protracted struggle, but on the other hand we must seize the opportunities to win victories in a not too long a period of time...There is no contradiction in the concept of a protracted war and the concept of taking opportunities to gain victories in a short time."[21] This may reemphasize Thanh's comments above against external dependency. Pike refers to Party Resolution 13 of April 1967, which stated a goal of "a decisive victory in South Vietnam in the shortest possible time." He quotes the British historian P.J. Honey as interpreting this as a rejection of protracted war, with the strongest supporters of this rejection being Le Duan, Nguyen Van Vinh and Nguyen Chi Thanh.[22]

Protracted war theory, however, does not urge rapid conclusion. Palmer suggests that there might be at least two reasons beyond a simple speedup:[23]

  • The Politburo wanted to prevent Southern Communist dominance in an eventual victory, so by introducing Northern troops, they could take away that opportunity
  • They thought they would be defeated if they did not take decisive action

They may also have believed the long-trumpeted U.S. maxim of never getting involved in a land war in Asia, and that the U.S. was too concerned with Chinese intervention to use airpower outside South Vietnam.

One possibility is that while decisions were made in 1963 to take effect in 1966, the unexpected large-scale introduction of U.S. ground troops caused the schedule to be revised. It is unclear whether there really was a serious goal of victory in 1966. If the General Offensive-General Uprising model was in force, then why were there no apparent preparations for urban combat, and widespread small raids, as there were in the Tet Offensive?

Changes from U.S. ground intervention

Setting aside the issue of whether the theory, at this point, required preparation for the General Uprising, the next question becomes what end result was intended in 1965, after the U.S. elections were over. The plan made some sense as a Mao Phase III operation, because moving from the Ho Chi Minh trail in Cambodia, in central Vietnam (i.e., ARVN II Corps tactical zone), with a goal of driving through to the seacoast over Highway 19, would split South Vietnam in half. For this large operation, the PAVN created its first division headquarters, under then-brigadier general Chu Huy Man.

What was the revolutionary goal in November 1965?

This goal at first seemed straightforward, but was reevaluated when major U.S. ground units entered the area, first the United States Marine Corps at Danang, and then the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), the "First Cav". In particular, the PAVN were not sure of the best tactics to use against the air assault capability of the 1st Cav, so BG Man revised a plan to bring to try to fight the helicopter-mobile forces on terms favorable to the North Vietnamese. They fully expected to incur heavy casualties, but it would be worth it if they could learn to counter the new U.S. techniques, inflict significant casualties on the U.S. Army, and, if very lucky, still cut II CTZ in half. That planned movement was very similar to the successful PAVN maneuver in 1975. The revised plan first was evidenced in the Battle of the Ia Drang, which had three major subphases, and a followup at the Battle of Bong Son.

Elliott quotes Le Duan's November 1965 letter to COSVN, confirming that the Party, in Resolution 9 of December 1963, confirms that American intervention (i.e., "Limited War") was a possibility. In the letter, he speaks of the need to fight both the U.S. and the ARVN," deploying on the battlefield, we must aim at annihilating the puppet army first, because they are the weaker." That could be consistent with the initial phase of the Battle of the Ia Drang, which was to attrit ARVN forces, and possibly ambush U.S. forces, at Plei Me. He continued,

In fighting the American troops we must try to select their weak points and situations where they are weak in order to annihilate them. With regard to the strong points or the situations in which they are strong we should temporarily avoid them — although this is not an unbreakable rule.[24]

Le Duan's letter could mean that the Ia Drang combats were principally to force the U.S. troops into battle, and learn techniques, as they did. While the fight at LZ Albany was a successful ambush, both the PAVN and the U.S. commander recognized that the best PAVN approach was "hugging the belt", or moving so close to U.S. units that they risked fratricide from their air or artillery support. In his after-action report from LZ X-ray, LTC Hal Moore emphasized that some fratricide risk needed to be accepted at the time of initial contact, to prevent them moving the bulk of their force too close to the U.S. troops. [25] PAVN doctrine recognized the U.S. could not be driven out, but the PAVN goal was to

limit the contact with the enemy and defeat the enemy within those limits, inflicting many serious losses, and pushing him into a posture of becoming progressively more and more bogged down and seriously defeated...we will certainly gain a decisive victory in the South.[26]

Citing Dien Bien Phu, Le Duan had written that "decisive victory" was not synonymous with "complete victory." Theoretician Truong Chinh wrote "our strategy is defensive, but our tactics and campaigning principles are constantly to attack."[27]

There is little to suggest what the PAVN would have done had they managed to drive from the Ho Chi Minh trail to the South China Sea. At the time, did they believe this would be sufficient to trigger the General Uprising, or were they really committed to the General Uprising model at that time? Purely from an operational standpoint, they had capability to drive south, through the DMZ, and try to link up with the salient at the coast. That drive to the south, however, would not just have faced the ARVN and U.S. air support they met in 1972; they also would have gone against a U.S. corps-sized ground force. Truong Chinh's observation about defensive strategy may well have meant that they had no serious intention of reaching the coast, but the subsequent Ia Drang battle with the ARVN Airborne followed by an admittedly undisciplined retreat into Cambodia, and the more limited Battle of Bong Son shortly afterwards, may well have meant that the PAVN, in 1965, basically wanted to bog down the U.S. in the west, and never intended a drive to the coast. In contrast, when they attacked in the same area in 1975, that was in concern with attacks from the DMZ to pin the I Corps tactical zone forces, and they had mobile forces capable of driving south from the coast.

Second Evolution: 1968

By late 1966, however, North Vietnam began a buildup in the northwest area of the theater, in Laos, the southernmost part of the DRV, the DMZ, and in the northern part of the RVN. Given that moving significant distances on the Ho Chi Minh trail would take months, this still was earlier than Pike's idea of the October-November starting point (see below). Were they simply planning to get into base camps before the start of the monsoon season in April or May, and then start the "concentrated" fighting when the rains stopped?

Questions continue on the real intent of the Battle of Khe Sanh and Tet Offensive, and the extent to which they related to one another, or were part of a larger plan. After the war, Giap said

For us, you know, there is no such thing as a single strategy. Ours is always a synthesis, simultaneously military, political, and diplomatic — which is why, quite clearly, the Tet offensive had multiple objectives. [28]

Nguyen Chi Thanh, also known as Truong Son was a senior general[29] in the People's Army of Viet Nam, who commanded all Communist forces in South Vietnam. He was also a member of the Politburo, and his political writings are more under the Truong Son name.

He planned and was to have directed the Tet Offensive, but died before the operation. Some reports say he died of natural causes in a Hanoi hospital, while others say he was killed by a B-52 strike. Some of the reports say he died of cancer while others say a sudden heart disease; some of the latter suggest the heart disease was due to bomb fragments from chest wounds incurred in the South.

Different analysts drew different conclusions on the Politburo's idea of the center of gravity of their opposition, which they considered controlled by the U.S. There is little evidence, however, that either potential center of gravity was the U.S. forces themselves. The centers of gravity could be:

  1. The ARVN, so the U.S. was forced to a politically infeasible choice of further escalation or withdrawal
  2. The urban populace, to cause a General Uprising

Pike's theory of the TCK/TCN

Douglas Pike believed the TCK/TCN [30] was to have three main parts:

  • October-November 1967: "concentrated" fighting methods, with raids against small to medium military bases such as Con Thien or Loc Ninh, essentially as large raids: "not a decisive battle but a punitive one"
  • January-March 1968: "independent" fighting methods, often small, such as the squads that hit the U.S. Embassy. The operational message was that there were no safe areas.
  • Something identified in their message against a large target, a "psychological backbreaker" against a target like Khe Sanh, Hue, Kontum, or Saigon.

Pike used Dien Bien Phu as an analogy for the third phase, although Dien Bien Phu wa an isolated, not urban, target. Losing elite troops during the Tet Offensive never let them develop the "second wave" or "third phase". "We don't ever know what the second wave was; we have never been able to find out because probably only a couple of dozen people knew it." The description of the three fighting methods is consistent with the work of Nguyen Chi Thanh, who commanded forces in the south but died in 1967; Thanh may very well have been among those couple of dozen. He described it as consistent with the armed dau tranh theory espoused by Vo Nguyen Giap but opposed by the politically oriented Truong Chinh. Pike said he could almost hear Truong Chinh saying, "You see, it's what I mean. You're not going to win militarily on the ground in the South. You've just proven what we've said; the way to win is in Washington." Alternatively, Giap, in September 1967, had written what might well have been a political dau tranh argument: the U.S. was faced with two unacceptable alternatives: invading the North or continue a stalemate. Invasion of "a member country of the Socialist camp" would enlarge the war, which Giap said would cause the "U. S. imperialists...incalculable serious consequences." As for reinforcements, "Even if they increase their troops by another 50,000, 100,000 or more, they cannot extricate themselves from their comprehensive stalemate in the southern part of our country." [31]

The answer may be somewhere in-between: Giap indeed wanted to draw American forces away from the coastal urban areas, but tried too hard for a victory at Khe Sanh. [32]

Tet Offensive

For more information, see: Tet Offensive.

This section, while it does discuss some relatively current intelligence, deals only with the part of the material that supports the strategic theory. Other aspects, which dealt with exactly where and how attacks might take place, remain in the articles on the specific battles.

The most common Western explanation is that North Vietnamese planners expected popular uprising (khnoi nghai), but this almost completely failed to occur. many South Vietnamese demonstrated stronger support for the ARVN. [33]

Elliott, however, suggests that since the main targets in Tet were ARVN, with the U.S. attention on Khe Sanh, that the goal may have been to break a U.S. stalemate by defeating the ARVN component of a force under U.S. conrol, and put the U.S. into a position where it either had to escalate further, or withdraw. The costs to Hanoi were indeed enormous, but he suggests that there was never evidence that this was a price unacceptable to the Politburo. He quotes one U.S. official as saying "Essentially, we are fighting a birthrate."

However, the Tet Offensive had a devastating impact on Johnson's political position in the U.S., and in that sense was a strategic victory for the Communists.[34] There were very serious U.S. military proposals to ask for another 206,000 or more troops, and go into a pursuit of the badly hurt enemy. Westmoreland and JCS Chairman Wheeler believed it was the right time to attack the sanctuaries. Westmoreland had asked for 200,000 troops, a year earlier, to force a decision, but he considered the correlation of forces even better. Nevertheless, the leak, to the New York Times, on March 10 doomed the debate. Rightly or wrongly, the U.S. electorate could not understand if the enemy had been terribly hurt, why did the commander, who three months before had declared all was well, want to widen the fighting? [35]

Reports from the Saigon CIA station, however, saw a different alternative than Elliott. Where Elliott saw the PAVN view of the center of gravity as the ARVN, CIA Saigon saw it as a distinct change in Communist thinking, away from the protracted war attritional model to something more decisive. It cited documentation of "an all-out military and political offensive during the 1967-68 winter-spring campaign [the period beginning around Tet] designed to gain decisive victory...large-scale continuous coordinated attacks by main force units, primarily in mountainous areas close to border sanctuaries"--a strategy subsequently reflected in the enemy's major attacks on Khe Sanh--and "widespread guerrilla attacks on large US/GVN units in rural and heavily populated areas." The PAVN saw the urban population as the center of gravity, not attrition to U.S. troops or the defeat of ARVN forces.

It continued: "If the VC/NVN view the situation in this light, it is probably to their advantage to use their current apparatus to the fullest extent in hopes of fundamentally reversing current trends before attrition renders such an attempt impossible."

"In sum," the study's final sentence read, "the one conclusion that can be drawn from all of this is that the war is probably nearing a turning point and that the outcome of the 1967-68 winter-spring campaign will in all likelihood determine the future direction of the war."[36]

Third evolution: adapting to the conventional

Earlier but localized offensives, using armor and artillery, gave an increasingly conventional flavor to the warfare. The 1972 Easter offensive was unquestionably conventional warfare; while neither side used its tanks especially well, nor the North provide close air support, the significant thing was that the North used combined arms including armor, artillery, and both anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles, over significant distances.

In a way, the success of Operation LINEBACKER I, an air campaign of intense battlefield air interdiction in stopping the invasion — as well as some inspired ARVN fighting — proved that the war had become conventional. Guerrilla wars cannot be stopped by airpower.

In 1975, however, there was no U.S. airpower. Since South Vietnam had always kept control of air assets at the Corps tactical zone level, the RVN Air Force had never developed doctrine for, or practiced, massing air assets to concentrate on enemy rear areas.

Palmer suggests that the fall of Phuoc Long Province (now part of Binh Phuoc Province), in January 1975, was the "first real crack" in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, a harbinger of the fall of South Vietnam.[21]


  1. Harry Summers, On Strategy: a critical analysis of the Vietnam War
  2. Marilyn B. Young (1991), The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990, HarperCollins, pp. 4-5
  3. Victor B. Lieberman (2003), Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, C 800-1830, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521804965, pp. 23-25
  4. Charles Kimball, "Dai Viet vs. Champa", Guide to Thailand
  5. Michael Lind (1999), Vietnam, the necessary war: a reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, The Free Press, p. 2
  6. Mao Zedong (1967), On Protracted War, Foreign Languages Press
  7. David W.P. Elliott (1993), Hanoi's Strategy in the Second Indochina War, in Jayne S. Werner and Luu Doan Huynh, The Vietnam War: American and Vietnamese Perspective, M.E. Sharpe, Elliott1993, p. 67
  8. Maxwell Taylor, The Uncertain Trumpet
  9. William Duiker (1993), Waging Revolutionary War: The Evolution of Hanoi's Strategy in the South, 1959-1965, in Jayne S. Werner and Luu Doan Huynh, The Vietnam War: American and Vietnamese Perspective, M.E. Sharpe, Duiker1993, p. 26
  10. Truong Chinh (1958), The August Revolution: Periodicals and Monographs, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Hanoi
  11. Douglas Pike (1969), War, Peace and the Viet Cong, MIT Press, p.120
  12. Duiker1993, p. 30
  13. Pike, pp. 131-132
  14. Herman Kahn, On Escalation: Metaphors and Scenarios
  15. Bui Tin (2006), Fight for the Long Haul: the War as seen by a Soldier in the People's Army of Vietnam, in Wiest, Andrew, Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land: the Vietnam War Revisited, Osprey Publishing, p. 68
  16. Karnow, Stanley (1983), Vietnam, a History, Viking Press, p. 226
  17. Young, pp. 49-51
  18. Joseph Alsop, "A Man in a Mirror", The New Yorker, June 25, 1955; quoted by Young, p. 55
  19. Nguyen Chi Thanh (October 1963), "Let Us Improve Our Proletarian Stand and Ideology, and Unite and Struggle for New Successes", Hoc Tap
  20. Oberdorfer, Don (1971), Tet! The story of a battle and its historic aftermath, Doubleday, p. 44
  21. 21.0 21.1 Palmer, Dave R. (1978), Summons of the Trumpet, Presidio Press, p. 73 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Palmer" defined multiple times with different content
  22. P.J. Honey, "The Offensive: Hanoi's Change of Strategy", China News Analysis, March 22, 1968; quoted by Pike, p. 136
  23. Palmer, pp. 63-65
  24. Elliott, p. 82
  25. Moore, Harold G. (Hal) (9 December 1965), After Action Report, IA DRANG Valley Operation 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry
  26. Elliott, pp. 82-83
  27. Elliott, p. 84
  28. Karnow, p. 535
  29. The highest general officer rank
  30. Douglas Pike (June 4, 1981), Oral History interview by Ted Gittinger, Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, pp. I-1 to I-3
  31. The Marines in Vietnam, 1954-1973: An Anthology and Annotated Bibliography (Second Printing, 1985 ed.), History and Museums Division, United States Marine Corps, 1974, p. 97
  32. Marc Jason Gilbert and William Head, ed. (1996), The Tet Offensive, Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.
  33. Adams, Sam (1994), War of Numbers: An Intelligence Memoir, Steerforth Press
  34. Willbanks, James H. (2006), The Tet Offensive: A Concise History
  35. Palmer, pp. 205-206
  36. Saigon telepouch FVSA 24242, 8 December 1967. CIA files, Job No. 80R01580R, DCI/ER Subject Files, Box 15, Folder 3, cited in Ford Episode 3